Best New American Voices 2000

Overview

Culled from over one hundred prestigious writing programs around the United States and Canada, Best New American Voices 2000 offers a remarkable panoply of writing talent that showcases the literary stars of tomorrow. Included here are twenty of the finest stories to come out of such programs as Breadloaf, the Sewanee Conference, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the University of Iowa, and the PEN/Prison Writing Committee, as nominated by the directors of those programs. Represented are all facets of North American...

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Overview

Culled from over one hundred prestigious writing programs around the United States and Canada, Best New American Voices 2000 offers a remarkable panoply of writing talent that showcases the literary stars of tomorrow. Included here are twenty of the finest stories to come out of such programs as Breadloaf, the Sewanee Conference, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the University of Iowa, and the PEN/Prison Writing Committee, as nominated by the directors of those programs. Represented are all facets of North American life, a diverse collection of visions and voices that will satisfy the most exacting of short-story readers. This dynamic collection is must-reading for all fans of innovative, cutting-edge new writing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In compiling this anthology, Wolff sidestepped the prestigious literary journals and popular magazines publishing serious fiction, and collected 20 polished short stories from more than 100 North American writing programs and conferences, including the Bread Loaf Conference, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Iowa Writers Workshop and the PEN/Prison Writing Committee. All the entries here are by emerging writers, many still studying their craft, but the quality of the work showcased is world class. The longest and most outstanding entry is Jennifer Vanderbe's "The Hatbox," an intricate look at the lives of three generations of women and the cumbersome secret that ties them together. The piece exhibits relaxed, old-fashioned storytelling reminiscent of W. Somerset Maugham. The opening story, "In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd" by Ana Menendez, is a litany of humorous anecdotes zeroing in on the plight of wealthy and educated Cubans who fled to the U.S. only to find their credentials useless and menial employment their only way of surviving. "The Tower Pig" by Scott Antworth captures a moment of compassion and understanding between a hard-nosed guard and the prisoner he is escorting to a funeral. Merrill Feitell's witty and moving "Bike New York" skillfully portrays the inner turmoil of a soon-to-be-married man on an unplanned, thought-provoking jaunt with a teenage girl. Other writers to watch are Ladette Randolph, Shimon Tanaka, William Gay and Maile Meloy. While unfamiliar names today, these voices are likely to show up in Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories in years to come. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
This is an intriguing anthology, because rather than re-hashing stories printed in literary journals, the stories are culled from a story competition that included submissions from writing programs, arts councils, and writing workshops. Guest Editor Tobias Wolff (This Boy's Life) has chosen a startling array of stories, each with its own distinct voice, style, plot, and characters. What makes this collection so unique is that it is impossible to typify a common style of writing or sub-genre in this volume. The writers are diverse, coming out of such programs as Bread Loaf, the Sewanee Conference, The University of Iowa, and the PEN/Prison Writing Committee; and each of these authors has his or her own voice. These voices range from the comical (Lisa Metzger, "Cat and Mouse"), to the strangely lyrical (Martha Otis, "Aida South, Flower"), to the deeply disturbing (Wil-liam Gay, "The Paperhanger, the Doctor's Wife, and the Child Who Went Into the Abstract"). Readers of these stories will be transported to Karuizawa, Japan, to Little Havana in Miami, to the underground punk scene in New York. I would highly recommend this collection of fine short stories to anyone interested in contemporary writing or short story writing in general. Each of these stories is a true gem—not a "diamond in the rough" made by new writers just starting out, but tales lovingly crafted with expert precision. Several of the stories contain sexual or violent content, but I don't feel it is gratuitous. Some of the violence is quite graphic, though, and there is one explicit sex scene that may be a bit inappropriate in a high school library. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students,advanced students, and adults. 2000, Harcourt, 434p. 21cm. 00-035045., $14.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Janice S. Bees; Freelance Reviewer, Chicago, IL , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
Library Journal
This is the first volume in a new series dedicated to the art of the short story that presents work from writing workshops in the United States and Canada. Some of these authors have already won major prizes, while others are publishing for the first time. Critically acclaimed writer Wolff was guest editor of this issue, choosing the final 20 pieces from about 300 submissions sent from teachers, workshop directors, and prize committee judges of various writing workshops, some associated with universities in the United States and Canada, others community-based workshops, summer conferences, and the PEN Prison Writing Committee. As Wolff states in his introduction, they present "an extraordinary display of inventiveness and variety within the story form." In Martha Otis's "Aida South, Flower," a co-worker invents a new death for a woman who deserved better than the one she got. In "Feathers on the Solar Wind," David Wood explores life in the AIDS dorm of a correctional facility. Kate Small's "The B-Zone" presents a Yugoslavian mail-order bride in Alaska. The stories vary in tone and subject matter, but together they present a good selection of contemporary work. Recommended for serious fiction collections.--Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical and Community Coll. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Twenty previously unpublished stories, chosen by debut guest editor Wolff from entries submitted by various collegiate writing programs, community workshops, prison writing projects, and miscellaneous competitions, located in the US and Canada. All the tales are more than formally and stylistically competent, few betray any unduly heavy influences, and several would stand out in any fictional company. The immigrant experience is explored with wry compassion in Shimon Tanaka's unusual story ("Video Ame") of Asian-American siblings adrift between their cultural origins and their strident new country; Kate Small's bleak portrayal of a decimated Kosovar family relocated in Oregon ("The B-Zone Open"); and novelist William Gay's"The Paperhanger, . . ." (its full Updikean title is much longer), in which a Pakistani woman's resentful experience of America is imagined with nightmarish intensity. More general contemporary concerns dominate David Benioff's [see XXXX] lusty tale of a rock-music agent unwisely involved with some certifiably weird new talent ("When the Nines Roll Over"); Merrill Feitell's savvy scrutiny of a 30-ish urbanite whose imminent path to the altar is sidetracked by a forthright teenaged girl ("Bike New York!"), and especially Ladette Randolph's subtle study of the complex"glimpse of transcendence" experienced by a coed who"sits" for her eccentric mentor's even more eccentric house-pets ("The Girls"). Even better are Ana Menendez's deeply sympathetic picturing of culture-shocked Latin American refugees in Miami ("In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd"), Adam Johnson's dry revelation of passive young slackers thrust incongruously into thrill-seeking and"wild life" ("Cliff GodsofAcapulco"), and, most notably,"The Hatbox," by Jennifer Vanderbes: a moving novella that gradually unfolds the interrelated ramifications of a secret that originates in East Africa and thereafter possesses, and poisons, the lives of three generations of women. Both the imperatives of multiculturalism and a proliferation of genuine literary talent have stimulated a contemporary plethora of story anthologies. This lively volume is one of the best of them.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156013222
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/2/2000
  • Series: Best New American Voices Series
  • Edition description: 2000
  • Pages: 452
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

John Kulka is executive editor-at-large at Harvard University Press and lives in Connecticut.

Natalie Danford is a freelance writer and book critic whose work has appeared in People, Salon, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, and many other publications. She is the author of a novel, Inheritance, and lives in New York City.

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