The Best American Short Stories 2011

The Best American Short Stories 2011

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by Geraldine Brooks
     
 

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A collection of the year's best short stories from American periodicals as chosen by Pulizer Prize author Geraldine Brooks.

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Overview

A collection of the year's best short stories from American periodicals as chosen by Pulizer Prize author Geraldine Brooks.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Children and their parents feature prominently, if predictably, in this year's collection, which includes stories by three Pulitzer Prize-winners. Some of the stronger pieces—such as Sam Lipsyte's "The Dungeon Master," about an endearing young cast of misfit fantasy-game players, and Ricardo Nuila's "Dog Bites," in which a pedantic but loving father helps his son navigate the perils of Little League and life without Mom—tackle the difficulties of adolescence with fresh humor and vigor. Though most of the stories stick to a neutral third-person perspective, or feature an older first-person narrator reflecting on youth, one notable exception is Richard Powers' excellent "To the Measures Fall," which is written in the second-person and poses piercing questions to the reader as the story follows the main character from her young adulthood to death. In Joyce Carol Oates's bleak and heartfelt "ID," a 13-year-old girl must identify her dead mother at the morgue. In George Saunders' "Escape from Spiderhead," inmates at a futuristic prison enact hilarious, disturbing tests upon one another. Though many of the names here are familiar, this powerful new work re-establishes these authors' command of the form. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"In this anthology series celebrating American short fiction annually since 1915, each year a different renowned writer chooses the best 20 stories of that year...Brooks does the honors impressively."
--Booklist

"Though many of the names here are familiar, this powerful new work re-establishes these authors' command of the form."
--Publishers Weekly

"Another stellar selection from an anthology that has sustained high standards for 35 years..Each one of these stories could establish itself as some reader’s favorite."
--Kirkus, starred

Kirkus Reviews

Another stellar selection from an anthology that has sustained high standards for 35 years.

Every year's annual edition reflects the state of the genre as seen from the eyes of its guest editor. As this year's editor, Brooks (Caleb's Crossing, 2011, etc.) brings an outsider's perspective to the American short story, one not beholden to creative writing workshops and MFA programs.Born and raised in Australia, she's a journalist who became an acclaimed novelist and who doesn't write stories.But she read a whole lot of them last year, using the criterion that "a great piece of writing is the one you feel on your skin. It has to do something: Make the heart beat harder or the hairs stand up. Provoke laughter or tears." She plainly responds to strong narrative voices, characters and momentum, preferring plots to postmodern literary parlor tricks (though inclusions from Steven Millhauser, Sam Lipsyte and a wonderful multiple-choice story by Richard Powers suggest that she is no kneejerk traditionalist). This anthology is lighter on discovery than some years, with more than a third of the 20 stories first published in the New Yorker (and another actually an excerpt from Jennifer Egan's prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad novel), but the inclusion of Megan Mayhew Bergman's "Housewifely Arts" whets the appetite for her debut story collection next spring. And Tom Bissell's explanation of how "A Bridge Under Water," about a honeymoon in Rome that shows a marriage already in peril, was rejected 15 times before the publication that resulted in this year's anthologizing should provide hope to persevering writers everywhere. Many of these stories offer rite-of-passage (or at least coming-of-age) discoveries, as the reader recognizes implications that a youthful protagonist has yet to glean. Compounding the narrative intrigue is Ricardo Nuila's "Dog Bites," with a narrator subjected to multiple diagnoses (including Asperger's) by his doctor father, challenging the reader to determine whether the perspective of the son or the father is more significantly skewed.

Each one of these stories could establish itself as some reader's favorite.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547719290
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/04/2011
Series:
Best American Short Stories Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
410,076
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Geraldine Brooks was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel March.  Her first novel, Year of Wonders, is an international bestseller, and her novel People of the Book was a New York Times bestseller translated into 20 languages. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.
HEIDI PITLOR is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been the series editor for The Best American Short Stories since 2007. She is the author of the novels The Birthdays and The Daylight Marriage.

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