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American Fiction, Volume 11: The Best Previously Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Authors

Overview

"The one anthology that deliberately and exclusively sets out to find the best unpublished stories by 'emerging' writers."—Tobias Wolff, previous judge

"Truly, a breath of fresh air for us all, writers and readers alike."—Raymond Carver, previous judge

"A must-read collection for all short-fiction enthusiasts."—Booklist

This is the eleventh volume in the prestigious series that has discovered, through an annual national competition, David Guterson, Antonya Nelson, Ursula Hegi, ...

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Overview

"The one anthology that deliberately and exclusively sets out to find the best unpublished stories by 'emerging' writers."—Tobias Wolff, previous judge

"Truly, a breath of fresh air for us all, writers and readers alike."—Raymond Carver, previous judge

"A must-read collection for all short-fiction enthusiasts."—Booklist

This is the eleventh volume in the prestigious series that has discovered, through an annual national competition, David Guterson, Antonya Nelson, Ursula Hegi, A. Manette Ansay, and current finalist judge Clint McCown. You'll meet many writers for the first time that you'll be hearing from again, and often.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898232530
  • Publisher: New Rivers Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2010
  • Series: American Fiction
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristen J. Tsetsi is a former Austin Peay State University English professor, a former reporter, former cab driver, and the author of the critically-acclaimed novel Homefront. Her short fiction appears in both print and online journals ranging from Pindeldyboz to RE:AL, and her essays and articles can be found in Women’s eNews, the Journal Inquirer, and the Boston Globe. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of the Storyglossia Fiction Prize and the Robert L. Carothers Distinguished Writers’ Award. She currently lives with her husband and a few cats near Nashville, TN and is at work on her second novel. Her website is found at www.kristentsetsi.com.

Bayard Godsave received his MFA in Creative Writing in 2001 from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, where he worked as an editor on Red Weather, and his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he was a Fiction Co-Editor for the Cream City Review. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Foreign Languages at Cameron University.

Bruce Pratt was nominated in 2008 for a Pushcart Award in fiction, and his poetry collection Boreal is available from Antrim House Books (www.antrimhousebooks.com). His fiction, poetry, essays, and plays have appeared in more than forty literary magazines and journals in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and Wales, and have won several awards. In addition to working with American Fiction, Pratt serves on the editorial board of Hawk and Handsaw. He also coaches the Outdoor Track and Field Team at John Bapst Memorial High School, a small private, non-sectarian college preparatory day school in Bangor Maine where his Girls team has won seven of the last eight state championships. A graduate of the Stonecoast MFA at The University of Southern Maine, where he teaches undergraduate creative writing, Pratt lives with his wife, Janet, in Eddington Maine.

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 7, 2011

    Beautiful collection.

    Upon initial impression, American Fiction (Volume 11) is merely a collection of previously unpublished short stories written by lesser-known writers. New Rivers Press, the anthology's publisher, places its importance on giving new, and emerging writers a venue to share their art with the masses. Many collections of fiction that do not contain big name writers are quickly dismissed, but thanks to NRP, the promising talents of American Fiction are given a voice.

    Because American Fiction collects submissions on a competition basis, prizes are awarded to the best three stories, and the rest of the collection contains other stories that were considered well-crafted. This being said, the top three stories are certainly the best stories in the collection, and deserving of top recognition.

    "Stickmen" by Andrew C. Gottlieb is a standout piece that revolves around a college student who attends job fairs, presenting fake resumes to employers and fibbing his way through interviews. Conversely, this jokester young man is not as carefree as he lets on, and in fact is anticipating losing his father to a terminal illness. An escape for him from the dual life he leads is his constant doodling of stick figures. With rawness and humor, Gottlieb's story delves into the requirements of both independence, and family life.

    "Voyeuse" by Cary Groner is perhaps more deserving of the third award, as there is disconnect from reality represented here that I was not sure I was willing to buy as a reader. Plausibility is questioned a widow's cyclist husband loses his life in a horrific accident, and his helmet containing a special webcam is not broken. Instead, an onlooker steals the camera and taunts the widow, until finally the onlooker suggests the two meet to end the mysterious game they have created. Groner's attempt to lighten a story thick with grieving can be mistaken for an even that would simply never be able to happen. However, in the Introduction, finalist judge Clint McCown "I also look for originality plausibility within the invented universe, and a seamless creation of the fabric of reality on the moment-by-moment, microcosmic level." McCown's justification for its appearance in this collection - and its award - makes sense. Groner wants to take the reader on an adventure, and create suspense.

    The third place story, "Souvenirs" by Aimee Loiselle illuminates the life of a family caught in the turmoil of PTSD, and the heartache brought on by physical wounds. One of this story's strongest narrative strengths is its ability to depict life after war, and a war's lasting effects on a family that is barely held together. Because we understand up front that this narrator is a drug addict, the idea of plausibility is not a central issue for the reader, as it is in "Voyeuse."

    This is a fine collection of short stories that, as McCown says "deals with both the head and heart." Beautifully collected, with interesting things to say about the human condition, and the world around us, American Fiction (Volume 11) is a definite read for any lover of short stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    Structurally sound readings, but highly varied.

    It's somewhat troublesome to try and sum up American Fiction, Volume 11 simply due to the number and variety of stories in the anthology. However, there do seem to be some trends that recur more often than others. One pattern that seemed to come back more often than most was the authors' habit of leaving the precise feelings of their main characters as unknowns; this is particularly evident at times in the climaxes and resolutions. It works appreciably well as a literary technique, although within the great number of first-person stories it can feel strained at times, and the repetition in story after story begins to cause the technique to feel somewhat tired eventually. There was also a great deal of dramatizing the ordinary, although the events themselves are not set up to be particularly astounding. Instead, drama is achieved mainly through word choice and by using a good deal of first-person point-of-view in order to make characters more open and approachable-easier to empathize with. It's a good approach, and it works well for the most part. The technique itself isn't unusual, and in most cases it's a good technique-showing and not telling. But every once and awhile it seems to clash with the concept of utilizing first-person narration, to use a view so intimate and then pull back the usually close psychic distance (aka aesthetic distance) at the moments that seem to be the most poignant for the characters feels odd. Personally, my greatest trouble is the content: The problem with realistic fiction is that its very nature makes it more difficult to make it immediately interesting. People already know the ordinary, it's the unusual and fantastic that draws in people easily, so realistic fictions tend to take more effort in order to fashion them as interesting. Despite the stories often powerful emotions, good detail and imagery, the realistic settings had trouble truly pulling me into the narrative itself. I wanted to observe the characters, but the stories were such that they struggled to create a real desire in me to want to follow the characters through their narratives.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    Wasnt too Impressed

    I wasn't too impressed with American Fiction Volume 11, edited by Kristin J. Teseti with help from Bayard Godsave and Bruce Pratt and finalist judge Clint McCown. This book is filled with many different authors. Each sharing a different story of a day, event or experience in an American's life, granted each story can be related to, each one has one aspect that as Americans we can understand. Filled with hardships, sadness and relief this book takes a look at the not so lavish lifestyle we sometimes choose to ignore or step away from because we don't like what we see. I'm not going to lie and will admit that I only read half the book because of the dread and sadness that I felt while reading; I couldn't seem to make myself finish the book. For example in the short story titled "Souvenirs," by Aimee Loiselle was about a woman struggling with addiction, her husband struggling with injuries from the war and the helplessness that followed and the woman's brother trying to take her kids away. This story was sad as you read about the downward spiral of their lives. It also makes me mad though because of how the story turned out. My grandma has always said that some people are not fit to be parents and should take a test to see if they were responsible and or ready for children and I couldn't agree more and this story only confirms my convictions and my grandma's beliefs. The sad part is I can see where this writer is coming from. Many families are struggling with addiction, injuries and money problems. It's just one of American's calling cards. It's the land of too many opportunities and many falls from grace. "Twenty Tales of Natural Disasters," by Helen Phillip was confusing and I felt like it was kind of pointless. I could barely follow her train of thought before she switched to a new topic and I felt like she should have said something to wrap everything together but was sadly disappointed when she didn't. There was one story that I recommend if your inclined to read on called "The Yard," by Neil Crabtree which although still has the same sadness that comes with the other stories but almost has a whimsical aspect when talking about the granddaughter and the ducks. There's a comical thought process that brings a smile to my face as I read it. He also takes the thought of death and sees it as a passing thought, he didn't dwell of the subject like so many authors do today, which was a refreshing change, for although I know death comes in many forms and many ways it seems to be something Americans dwell on and it can be kind of depressing. Overall, I wasn't too impressed with the collection of short stories, there were some good ones but there were also some bad ones. Personally I don't like death and dread and although those stories find a way to push through it and move on or deal with it as they see fit. It just wasn't my for-tay and I couldn't seem to get into it.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    interesting book

    American Fiction: Volume 11 is a collection of first-time published short stories by the newest authors in fiction. The book's publisher, New Rivers Press, is a not-for-profit small press that specializes in publishing newly emerging writers instead of mainstream authors. The varied and provoking stories in American Fiction live up to the expectations that it has prepared for readers. The voices in the stories are distinct and clear, remaining separate and distinct from each other. With twenty stories, there is a large variety of stories to choose from. While each story has a different author, the stories are connected in a way that leads the reader through one basic journey rather than twenty different ones. The authors, who are chosen for the novel, are new to the publishing business and often times are being published for the first time. This is New Rivers Press all about. The stories are often very unconventional in their content, but they stay within a realm that most readers will be able to identify with most characters on a personal level. One of the stories, Souvenir, is told from the perspective of a young wife after her husband returns wounded and bedridden from Iraq. This story is very well written and deals with many of the problems that can face someone battling with a troubled life and addiction now a days. Due to the differences in each of the stories, some are extremely entertaining while others seem to drag on according to individual preferences. The stories are consistent, however, in the quality of writing and the ability of the authors to conceptualize their thoughts. The most interesting thing about the eleventh edition of "American Fiction" is the originality of the novel itself. I found American Fiction to be well worth my time.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    A Must-Read for Excellent Short Stories

    American Fiction is a well-established short story collection that New Rivers Press acquired in 1997. Its two editors, Alan Davis and Michael White, choose the twenty stories included in the publication, and then a guest judge chooses the best three. Those three writers receive a cash prize. The latest edition, Volume 11, was judged by Clint McCown. Past judges include Tim O'Brien, Tobias Wolff, and Raymond Carver.
    This collection begins with the three stories that won prizes. The first prize winner is entitled "Stickmen" and is about the ways a young man copes with his father's illness and death. He and a friend decide to get job interviews with attractive women recruiters during a job fair. While the young man attends these interviews or is in class or doing homework, he draws stickmen that describe his mood. The author, Andrew C. Gottlieb, pinpoints the experience of coping with loss. Anyone who has dealt with the death of a loved one will relate to the young man's distancing himself from his friends and the desire to be left alone. The story is realistic and poignant.
    One of the great aspects of this collection is the diversity of the themes and topics of the stories and the length of each story. Some stories are several pages, while there are some that are only three or four pages. These shorter stories demonstrate those authors' ability to create and include the important elements of a story into a minimal number of pages. "My Yard" is a story seen through the eyes of a grandfather caring for his young granddaughter because of the death of his son. Through the detailed descriptions of the lake behind his house and the measures he has taken to prevent his granddaughter from getting hurt by the lake, we learn of his worries and surprises of caring for his son's child. He is faced with his own mortality when she informs him that he will not live past her teenage years.
    "Stickmen" and "My Yard" are examples of some of the strongest works in this collection. Others include "The Tenant," about a man who has searched for his father for the past forty years, and "Twenty Tales of Natural Disasters," which is a compilation of loosely related pieces of flash fiction. These stories represent the vast possibilities with short story writing, especially when juxtaposed with stories that are not as strong as these. Each story has elements that the readers will appreciate, but some are better than others. The great part of a collection of short stories is that the reader gets to pick which ones to read and when. This collection has something to offer all types of readers: ones that prefer a short, complete, quick read, ones that want to sit and read for hours, and those readers that are looking specifically for great short stories.

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  • Posted April 17, 2011

    Awesome, previously unpublished reads by awesome authors

    Eleven volumes since the first installment, New River Press is still producing a wonderful set of short stories written by modern authors in American Fiction. Readers from previous volumes will not be disappointed as they grow with and embrace this new set of authors. Each author, having previously been unpublished, brings something new to the table and keeps the reader moving from the front cover to the back cover. With such modern writing, every reader is sure to relate in some form with the characters or events that are portrayed in each story. Whether it's a college student who is dealing with the time leading up to the death of his father as in "Stickmen" by Andrew C. Gottlieb or a family experiencing the difficulties of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after a member comes home from war as is the case in "Souvenirs" by Aimee Loiselle. Regardless of the reader's experiences in life, there is something for everyone to appreciate and fall in love with. The cover of this book is extremely eye-catching. Done in beautiful shades of blue and grey, the cover is able to capture the imagination and, in some cases, reveal some of the stories that are held within. Piano keys, crossword puzzles, and fish are just a few of the images that peak through the seemingly splattered paint on the cover. And, of course, to pull the "American" side in, Uncle Sam's hat rests gently on top of the title of the book to pull it all together. The interior, however, could be considered aesthetically lacking to some readers. This is not the first book published by New Rivers Press that utilizes the sans-serif font that is Century Gothic. While many readers may appreciate the use of this semi-whimsical font, other readers might find it to be a little too playful for the content in many of the stories. By the end of the 312 pages, some eyes might be screaming for mercy. Overall, however, this book with the touching stories is an awesome read and well-worth bearing with the font. It is a highly-recommended read.

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    First of all, I highly recommend this book. American Fiction volume 11 is a collection of well-written, short stories by up-and-coming authors. This anthology is assorted into 20 short stories. Each story has several dramatic elements and they each describe life beautifully from both bright and dark sides. These are written in different styles, but they all contain similar themes. These stories are easy to get into and they will not allow you to quit reading.
    The most powerful story to me was "everything, clearly" by Alexander Yates. The main character, Tom, is taking care of his blind wife named Anna. She suffers from Wolfson's disease, which causes her human nature to collapse. These people are not themselves any more. Their lives have completely changed. While Anna is struggling with illness, Tom started having an affair with his boss, Katherine. When Anna was cured and could see everything again, he struggled to make his decision between Anna and Katherine. This story was a deep, human drama. Each character has strong personality and their way of talking helps the reader visualize the characters and story. Yates did excellent work to build these characters. The characters' conversation and Tom's inside story are well crossed. Tom's dilemma touches sympathy and strike reader's heart.
    The story that warmed my heart was "My yard" by Neil Crabtree. This story is about a grandfather that sees his life thorough his relationship with his granddaughter, Aliyah. She tries to understand death and learn it by herself somehow. This subject always sticks in her head because of her experience. The grandfather did not care about passing, but he realized how wonderful life is thanks to Aliyah. He wishes to live another ten years. This story makes the reader think about important people in their life. Crabtree depicts an amazing setting that takes place at a lake. He describes in great detail a backyard filled with many animals.
    The collection as a whole is wonderful. The book cover looks like an explosive, magical world and it presents this collection well. Although the font is not easy to read, it is not too bothersome for readers. However, when the story has few paragraphs, readers might lose their line sometimes.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    Good Read

    American Fiction, Volume 11 is a collection of short stories written by previously unpublished short stories by emerging authors. With 20 stories all together, American Fiction encompasses many different life situations in its beautifully written form to give readers a good, "whole" read.
    A common theme that can be safe to be said to run throughout all the stories is that of a life lesson. In "Stick men" by Andrew C. Gottlieb, the main character is living a life of not being who he is (in interviews he uses a fake name) all while dealing with an imminent looming death of his father. One could say that an underlying message of the story is that of dealing with grief - how everyone deals differently, sometimes not being who you actually are is a relief. Throughout the rest of the book, themes of the like can be found in underlying ways.
    The title of the book is slightly incorrect as to what it implies. I have talked to a few people who took the title for something other than what it is. "American Fiction" seems to mean that it is about patriotism of some sort. The cover art suggests that as well with an Uncle Sam hat and blue tones. Readers may shy away from the good book of short stories if a patriotic theme is not what they are looking for.
    The interior is very well designed even though the type is sans serif, which is usually not likable by readers. But in this case, the type is spaced well, giving the pages a light airy look and feel that is comfortable to read the 312 pages of the book.
    Overall, the book is a good read that can be liked by many different audiences.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    Very enjoyable

    American Fiction is an anthology of short stories by unpublished writers. With twenty stories, there is a large variety of stories to choose from. While each story has a different author, the stories are connected in a way that leads the reader through one basic journey rather than twenty different ones.
    Several of the stronger stories stood out to me including "Stickmen" by Andrew C. Gottlieb, "The Cherry Tree" by Sarah Blackman, and "Metal and Glass" by Kristen-Paige Madonia. These three stories have strong main characters with an understandable plot. Even more so, the stories capture the reader's attention easily and hold the attention throughout.
    Easily my least favorite part of American Fiction is the fact that it is printed entirely in a sans serif font. I find it to be very distracting and have a lower readability level than basically every other book or anthology out there. I am all for "breaking out of the mold" as far as design goes, but there are just certain things you don't do, and I really feel that a sans serif font for the body text of a novel is a cardinal sign in the design world. There were times when I was reading where I would physically have to refocus my attention on the story I was reading because I was so completely distracted by the Century Gothic-y typeface.
    Other than my feelings on font, I found American Fiction to be well worth my time to complete. The stories are well-written and they all deserved to be featured in this anthology.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    Entertaining read

    The anthology of short stories, American Fiction, is one that covers a vast amount of personal turmoil from both internal and external adversaries. The stories are often very unconventional in their content, but they stay within a realm that most readers will be able to identify with most characters on a personal level. One of the stories, Souvenir, is told from the perspective of a young wife after her husband returns wounded and bedridden from Iraq. This story is very well written and deals with many of the problems that can face someone battling with a troubled life and addiction. The story shows how easy it can be to empathize with someone who has hit a dark spot in their life, but it also shows that there are a lot of problems that carry over from war. Another story that really stood out was The Cherry Tree. In it, a young professional woman is caught lusting for something more than the arduous career she has landed. The woman clearly struggles to find deeper meaning in her surroundings and is surprised and taken by a man with plenty of character. The story seems to be able the changing phase of the young woman's life, where she will hopefully blossom and bloom like the cherry tree she can see outside her window due to her relationship with the man. All of the stories definitely left me with some thought afterword, but the two I have mentioned above were my favorites. It's very pleasing to me that each story was written by a different author because that means that there is definitely a fresh voice of young and talented writers out there. The other impressive thing is that these writers were either not published or hardly published before having their stories put in American Fiction. As far as first time published short stories go, I've never come across a better anthology. It would be quite a task to find a finer collection in my opinion.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    Modern times call for modern fiction.

    Now in its eleventh installment, American Fiction continues to push forward as a representation of short fiction from a diverse array of modern authors. This particular volume may garner further interest than its predecessors, however. Every story between its covers is fresh; all are previously unpublished works from voices yet unheard. Still, most anthologies should be regarded by their collective strength-so when Clint McCown revealed his personal favorites in the book's introduction, I admit to some reluctance in testing his judgment.

    As it turns out, McCown's opinion is mirrored by the anthology's presentation, and for the most part, it remains a savvy editorial decision. Putting its foot forward with "Stickmen" by Andrew Gottlieb, the book launches into an array of first-person narratives with heavy interpersonal themes. These stories place less importance on plot than the dominating characters and their families, making for some surprisingly engaging situations. We care less about the sexual exploits of a college junior than his relationship with an afflicted father, and the video-streaming bicycle helmet featured in "Voyeuse" is made interesting by grief-stricken obsession.

    Perhaps most refreshing of all, the works of American Fiction are not afraid to embrace the 21st century, making the elements of context and setting accessible to a broad audience. This is not to say that the entire anthology is necessarily modern or confined to a rigid order of realism-some of the later works verge on the surreal and experimental. The language of the collection, however, is one that everyone can speak.
    Unfortunately, the book's typeset can make even the clearest diction a chore to read. Often, lines seem too long and too close together, paragraphs strung out and squished together. While these unfortunate formatting decisions are no deal-breaker, they may make some stories difficult to slog through.

    Ultimately, if you are looking for modern fiction-specifically "literary" fiction in the anthologized sense-there is no way to go wrong with American Fiction's eleventh volume. Though previously unpublished, these authors do credit to their craft, promising an intriguing evolution of the short story without breaking what already works. As McCown advises in the introduction, I will keep my eyes peeled for their reappearance in the near future.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    New Authors, New Stories

    The New Rivers Press has published their eleventh edition of "American Fiction." Like the previous ten, the eleventh edition includes short stories which were previously unpublished by their authors. These stories cover a wide array of subjects and tones, most of which explore human emotions and social encounters. Due to the differences in each of the stories, some are extremely entertaining while others seem to drag on according to individual preferences. The stories are consistent, however, in the quality of writing and the ability of the authors to conceptualize their thoughts.


    The most interesting thing about the eleventh edition of "American Fiction" is the originality of the novel itself. Unlike many compilation novels, "American Fiction" receives hundreds of previously unpublished stories and narrows them down to twenty. The authors who are chosen for the novel, are new to the publishing business and often times are being published for the first time. It is apparent upon reading their work how much passion and love they have for the craft and their stories, as each one is well-constructed. The quality of the up-and-coming authors is what makes the novel a wonderful read.


    Each of the stories introduce themselves in a somewhat sad manner. "Stickman"by Andrew C. Gottlieb, is the story of a boy who has recently left home and his relationship with his dying father. Another story, "Section," by Gregory Williams, discusses a doctor's thought process on whether or not he would like to have his child, even when there is a high probability the child will be born with down syndrome. Many of the other stories follow this grim tone, but all come to a positive conclusion for the characters in the end.


    The one critique that I developed while reading the novel was not in the content itself, but in the difficulty to read the text. The editors chose a long typeset that meshes the letters together and ultimately makes the words sort of mesh together. By the end of my reading I was struggling to see each word individually. The collection of short stories, however, is a good buy for anyone interested in reading new author's work.

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  • Posted March 1, 2011

    A Delightful Read

    American Fiction: Volume 11 is an eclectic collection of first-time published short stories by the newest, freshest voices in fiction. The book's publisher, New Rivers Press, is a not-for-profit small press that specializes in publishing newly emerging writers instead of mainstream authors. Clint McCown, the judge for this particular addition to NRP's collection, writes in the introduction: "I look for originality, plausibility within the invented universe, and a seamless creation of the fabric of reality on the moment-by-moment, microcosmic level. I look for a sustaining pace and build up of momentum." Held against these criteria, the varied and provoking stories in American Fiction live up to the expectations that he has prepared for readers. The voices in the stories are distinct and clear, remaining separate and distinct from each other, while still maintaining McCown's cohesive thread throughout the entirety of the book. Stronger stories include "Stickmen" by Andrew C Gottlieb, "Souvenirs" by Aimee Loiselle and "Metal and Glass" by Kirsten-Paige Madonia. All three easily capture readers' attention and help them identify with ordeals of the main characters, all of which are struggling to deal with some kind of pain in their lives. Although most of the stories work well together, "Voyeuse" by Cary Groner, "Mauricio Fabiano Weinstein" by Daniel M. Jaffe, and "Everything, Clearly" by Alexander Yates are examples that don't quite fulfill McCown's specific demands of plausibility. They seem too far-fetched because of their strange circumstances, and lack character development and appropriate tension. Overall, these stories are not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but they offer a pleasant read for those searching for a new collection of short stories.

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

    Fun collection!

    American Fiction volume 11 was published by New Rivers Press and edited by Kristen J. Tsetsi. The collection contains a range of short stories. Within this collection there is a wide range of writing ability from the various authors, making it adaptable to multiple reading levels. The cover of the book states that the book is a collection from emerging authors. Each of the 20 short stories had evidence of different writing abilities, with several that did not appeal to me. All of the stories make an obvious attempt to pull at the readers' heart strings, of which some succeed and others fail. The flow of the book works well, except for the first short story in the novel.
    Stickmen by Andrew C. Gottlieb seemed to be missing parts. I assume there was a hidden message and symbolic point to his stickmen drawings and his dying father who lacked the ability to move around; however the choppiness of the writing and the flow of subject matters seemed lacking. I think this was a poor choice for an opening short story and lacked the intensity needed to grab the attention from the reader at first glance. It did not give enough evidence to the creativity that lay behind it. I think the book would have kept the flow it desired and grabbed the attention of the reader if the first and second stories would have been flipped around.
    The second short story, Voyeuse by Cary Groner immediately grabbed my attention. The author was able to put the reader in the moment. The strain she felt from losing her husband Brian was verbalized in a manner that no matter who was reading the story, could place themselves in her shoes. The story keeps the reader interested in the mystery of who was using her husbands' web-linked mini cam she had purchased him.
    One of my personal favorites was The Cherry Tree by Sarah Blackman. Although, the sexual content of the story was a little rougher than I normally appreciate, I enjoyed the authors' ability to place importance on details and descriptions. I felt this author had a strong writing style and the ending was perfectly placed, as though the author herself recognized her own writing strengths.
    Another interesting tale was written by Sharon Solwitz, called The Snow, The Girl. A story that kept the reader wanting more, it took an fascinating spin when Allen, a husband and father, found himself giving a ride to a girl who unexpectedly appeared in his car. The author was able to capture the personalities of each character and make the reader feel like the

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

    Solid Collection

    I have always found some difficulty when reviewing any collection of shorter works, mainly due to the fact that I am always inclined to reflect my critique based on whatever story stood out in my mind the most, whether that be for positive or negative reasons. And so I began reading the 11th volume of American Fiction with that very thought at the forefront of my mind. Thankfully, the assortment of stories gathered for this New Rivers Press release were, for the most part, quick reads that were entertaining and consistently well-written. I don't usually read too many short stories, so some of the pacing took a little getting used to. However, I can definitely recognize a good story when I see one, and there were quite a few in this book. The first one that comes to my mind is called Piano by Terry Roueche. Coming from a rather musical family, this story was very relatable to me and I felt it was an excellent character-centered piece that sticks with you long after it's over. Another standout among the collection would have to be the Kate Gale-penned Remember Guernica. This story stands out to me as the highlight of the entire bunch, mainly because of the stream of consciousness narrative the writer employs here to great effect. It brought to mind noir films from the 1930's and 40's where the protagonist narrates the action for the viewing audience. All in all, American Fiction Volume 11 contains many fascinating short stories from previously unpublished authors. Recommended.

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