American Fiction: The Best in Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The quality of the work in the fourth collection in this series is disappointingly uneven. While several selections are compelling for settings that evoke moods of quiet desperation, the stories often withhold crucial details about characters' lives, leaving readers with many unanswered questions. Joshua Sinel's tale of a couple grieving over the death of their daughter, for instance, fails to convey a sense of who the daughter was. Annie Dawid doesn't develop her characters fully in her tale of a 20-year-old alcoholic who blames her divorced parents for ``her ill-equipped and so-far-failing venture to adulthood.'' The most accomplished of the stories is Clint McCown's portrait of an ailing, retired car salesman who derives anarchistic pleasure from keeping mules outside his glassed-in patio. To him, their braying, is ``solid and strong, with a wild streak flashing crazily through its heart.'' The collection does harbor a wide range of voices and styles, including Alyce Miller's powerful tale of a white teenager trying to pass among her black friends and David Conrad's lyrical depiction of a half-Vietnamese boy's search for his American G.I. father. White teaches writing at Springfield College; Davis is the author of Rumors from the Lost World. (July)
Library Journal
As the sixth edition of American Fiction (the fourth by Birch Lane Pr.), this volume contains 20 stories by ``emerging writers,'' or those who ``are not yet famous enough to enjoy the certainty of publication elsewhere.'' The result of a competition judged by Wallace Stegner, the book opens with the first-prize winner ``Mule Collector'' by Clint McCown, who also wrote the winner of 1990's competition. This story, like the others, is ``derived from middle-class white American life, most especially from the family and its strains,'' which Stegner points out in his introduction as the weakness of the collection. The two stories that the editors say ``deal with black experience'' are both written from a white person's point of view. Most of the stories are skillfully written, however, and deal with interesting topics. Not a vital purchase, but possibly of interest.-- Marie F. Jones, Muskingum Coll. Lib., New Concord, Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559721868
  • Publisher: Carol Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1993
  • Series: American Fiction Series
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael C. White
Michael C. White

Biography

Michael C. White is the author of four previous novels: A Brother's Blood, which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers nominee, as well as nominated for an Edgar; The Blind Side of the Heart, an Alternate Book-of-the-Month Club selection; and A Dream of Wolves, which received starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher's Weekly. The Garden of Martyrs (May 2004) was a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award in 2005, and he also has a collection of short stories, Marked Men. He has also published over 45 short stories in national magazines and journals, and has won the Advocate Newspapers Fiction Award and been nominated for both a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart. He was the founding editor of the yearly fiction anthology American Fiction. Currently he is the editor of Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose.

He teaches fiction writing workshops and literature courses at Fairfield University, and is on the faculty of Stonecoast, the University of Southern Maine's low-residency MFA program. He lives on a lake in Connecticut with his dog Henry.
Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Good To Know

When I was in grad school in Denver, evenings I worked as a bouncer in a bar. I got the job mostly because I knew the manager from working out together in the local weight room. Though I had no experience whatsoever, somehow he was under the mistaken impression that I was tough, and offered me the job. It seemed easy, offered free food and drinks, and I thought it was a writerly sort of position, one that I could one day put down alongside my various jobs of painting, guard duty, and selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. So I said yes. How hard could it be, I thought. My very first night on the job, though, proved me wrong. It was closing time and a drunken cowboy was trying to convince a woman to go home with him, and "no" wasn't in his vocabulary. He got very angry and started to yell and threaten her and the bartender and everyone else within range. At this point, the manager called upon the services of the bouncer-yours truly. The manager told me to throw him out on his ear. I didn't know if I was literally supposed to make him land on his ear or not, but it turned out he was much bigger than I was and throwing him out in any fashion wasn't an option. He threatened to beat my head to a pulp. I My fear honed my creative skills. With everyone watching, I leaned toward the man and whispered in his ear: "You probably could beat my head to a pulp, but if you do, I'll be in the hospital and you'll be in jail, and we'll both regret it." Luckily, he was sober enough to see the wisdom of this and, grumbling, stormed out of the bar.

I grew up in a very blue collar family. My father was a farmer and later a carpenter, and when I was a boy I used to accompany him to work, helping him saw boards and pound nails. It was hard work, and I soon realized I didn't want to do something like that for the rest of my life. I've had only two career dreams. Throughout school I played baseball and hoped one day to play professional ball. A torn rotator put an end to those dreams. After that, my only other dream was to become a writer. I just hope I don't come down with carpel tunnel because I'm too old to start a third career.

I enjoy fly fishing, hiking, biking, and working out in the gym.

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    1. Hometown:
      Guilford, CT, USA
    1. Date of Birth:
      1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Hartford, CT, USA
    1. Education:
      University of Connecticut - B.A., English; M.A., English, 1975, 1977; University of Denver - Ph.D., English
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Editor's Note
Introduction
Mule Collector 1
The Settlement 14
The Summer After 35
Voodoo Girls on Ice 45
Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines 62
My Moses Story 71
How Do You Like the South? 100
The Raising of Children 108
The Iron Box 119
The Girls 140
Baby 156
The Talking Woman 170
Miz Upchurch's Porch 184
Send Me 197
Home 210
Forms of Mercy 223
What Jasmine Would Think 234
Travelogue Analogue 255
A Place in the Desert 276
Dancing Fish 296
The Contributors 311
The Editors 315
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