already edited; held from previous week This fourth annual selection of ``stories in English by writers not American'' is a mixed bag in terms of quality, but not varied enough in country of origin. The British are overrepresented; we do find an occasional Aussie or New Zealander, but nary a Canadian or South African is among the 22 authors here. The more memorable entries include Peter Carey's ``A Letter to Our Son,'' an emotionally resonant account of a father's joy at his son's birth tinged with his fear for the mother's life; Lucy Ellman's funny, inventive existential anecdote, ``A Day in the Life of a Sphere''; Angela Carter's `` 'Tis Pity She's a Whore,'' a witty homage to both John Ford the filmmaker and John Ford the Jacobean playwright; and Jonathan Treitel's ``A Merican,'' a meditation on Nagasaki from the point of view of an Americanized Japanese woman in present-day California. Fay Weldon's tale about a graduate student's affair with her professor is engaging, if slight; those by Edna O'Brien and William Trevor suffer from chronic blandness. Still, there are newcomers to watch: Patrick Rogers, Adam Mars-Jones and Adrian Dannat have distinctive voices. (Nov.)
For their fourth annual compilation, the editors have selected 22 stories written in English by non-American writers. The result is more narrowly British than in previous years though a surprisingly large number feature American settings. J.G. Ballard's ``The Secret History of World War 3'' is a devilishly funny fantasy on Ronald Reagan's disastrous third term as president. One of the finest selections, Angela Carter's ``'Tis Pity She's a Whore,'' juxtaposes stories by two John Fords: the Jacobean dramatist and the American maker of Western movies. Somehow, it works beautifully. Penelope Lively's ``The Five Thousand and One Nights,'' a playful variation on the Scheherazade theme, is really about storytelling and the nature of fiction. Other stories are by Edna O'Brien, Ruth Rendell, William Trevor, and a host of younger writers. A solid though unexceptional collection.-- Laurence Hull, Cannon Memorial Lib., Concord, N.C.