Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best American Short Stories 2007

The Best American Short Stories 2007
Stephen King (Editor), Heidi Pitlor (Editor)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2007
Trade Paperback , 448 pages
Best American Short Stories Series
ISBN-13: 9780618713486
Very Highly Recommended

Wonderfully eclectic, The Best American Short Stories 2007 collects stories by writers of undeniable talent, both newcomers and favorites. These stories examine the turning points in life when we, as children or parents, lovers
or friends or colleagues, must break certain rules in order to remain true to ourselves. In T. C. Boyle's heartbreaking "Balto," a thirteen-year-old girl provides devastating courtroom testimony in her father's trial. Aryn
Kyle's charming story "Allegiance" shows a young girl caught between her despairing British mother and motherly American father. In "The Bris," Eileen Pollack brilliantly writes of a son struggling to fulfill his filial
obligations, even when they require a breach of morality and religion. Kate Walbert's stunning "Do Something" portrays one mother's impassioned and revolutionary refusal to accept her son's death. And in Richard Russo's
graceful "Horseman," an English professor comes to understand that plagiarism reveals more about a student than original work can.

My Thoughts:

The Best American Short Stories 2007 is a wonderful collection of 20 short stories. The stories are arranged by author in alphabetical order. After the stories you will find "Contributors' Notes" by the authors, a list of "100 Other Distinguished Stories of 2006" and a list of the addresses of American and Canadian Magazines that publish short stories.

There were some real stand-outs for me, like T.C. Boyle's "Balto" and Joseph Epstein's "My Brother Eli," but, truly, I found the collection outstanding. I really enjoyed all but one of the stories - and I'm not telling which one I didn't like as well as the others. On top of the gift of reading some amazing short stories, I am really gaining an appreciation for the art of short stories.

Before this year I would have said that I didn't enjoy short stories, but after this collection and the previous science fiction collection, I may have just changed my mind. I found these collections (as well as several others that I may just start reading now) back in the clearance section of my local used book store. I now think I need to look for other books in The Best American Short Stories series.
Very Highly Recommended

Louis Auchincloss, "Pa's Darling" from The Yale Review
John Barth, "Toga Party" from Fiction
Ann Beattie, "Solid Wood" from Boulevard
T. C. Boyle, "Balto" from The Paris Review
Randy Devita, "Riding the Doghouse" from West Branch
Joseph Epstein, "My Brother Eli" from The Hudson Review
William Gay, "Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?" from Tin House
Mary Gordon, "Eleanor's Music" from Ploughshares
Lauren Groff, "L. DeBard and Aliette: A Love Story" from The Atlantic Monthly
Beverly Jensen, "Wake" from New England Review
Roy Kesey, "Wait" from The Kenyon Review
Stellar Kim, "Findings & Impressions" from The Iowa Review
Aryn Kyle, "Allegiance" from Ploughshares
Bruce McAllister, "The Boy in Zaquitos" from Fantasy and Science Fiction
Alice Munro, "Dimension" from The New Yorker
Eileen Pollack, "The Bris" from Subtropics
Karen Russell, "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves" from Granta
Richard Russo, "Horseman" from The Atlantic Monthly
Jim Shepard, "Sans Farine" from Harper's Magazine
Kate Walbert, "Do Something" from Ploughshares


Pa's death, in the cold winter of 1960, at the age of eighty-seven, was a crucial event in the lives of his two daughters, but particularly for myself, the supposedly most loved, the adored Kate, the eldest. opening, Louis Auchincloss' "Pa's Darling"

If "Doc Sam" Bailey - Dick Felton's long-time tennis buddy from over in Oyster Cove - were telling this Toga Party story, the old ex-professor would most likely have kicked it off with one of those lefty-liberal rants that he used to lay on his Heron Bay friends and neighbors at the drop of any hat. opening, John Barth's "Toga Party"

The year Wright Kemzell published his book about my former colleague, friend, and mentor, Jacob Foxx Greer, I found myself with my sister in Key West. opening, Ann Beattie's "Solid Wood"

There are two kinds of truths, good truths and hurtful ones. opening, T. C. Boyle's "Balto"

Never let it be said that my kid brother Eli failed to give me anything: he gave me five ex-sisters-in-law and seven (I think I have the number right) nephews and nieces, three of whom I met for the first time at his funeral. opening Joseph Epstein's "My Brother Eli"

"Good God Almighty. We've lost the damned body." opening, Beverly Jensen's "Wake"

When Marcus packed for Florida, he harbored no illusions about what would happen when he got there. opening, Eileen Pollack's "The Bris"

At first, our pack was all hair and snarl and floor-thumping joy. opening, Karen Russell's "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves"


Thoughts of Joy said...

My appreciation for short stories has increased dramatically over the years, so I understand your thoughts. I'm not a writer, but it's my understanding (and it makes sense) that short stories are very difficult to write. You have to squeeze so much into such a little space while making an impact at the same time. Tough job!

Lori L said...

I think the fact that good short stories are difficult to write has kept me from seeking out the good short stories... Perhaps one could say that when short stories are good, they are very, very good and when they are bad they're awful. ;-)