The Granta Book of the American Short Story

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From the author of "Independence Day", Richard Ford edits and introduces this anthology for "Granta" which has become the most cited and authoritative collection of short stories on both sides of the Atlantic. Ford in his introduction discusses, among other things, the comment of Frank O'Connor that the short-story is handled so cleverly by Americans that it is our national art form.

This extraordinary anthology represents Ford's personal vision of the best works of ...

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From the author of "Independence Day", Richard Ford edits and introduces this anthology for "Granta" which has become the most cited and authoritative collection of short stories on both sides of the Atlantic. Ford in his introduction discusses, among other things, the comment of Frank O'Connor that the short-story is handled so cleverly by Americans that it is our national art form.

This extraordinary anthology represents Ford's personal vision of the best works of short fiction published in the U.S. in his lifetime and features authors ranging from Paul Bowles, Flannery O'Connor, and James Baldwin to contemporary writers such as Amy Tan, T. Coraghessan Boyle, and David Leavitt.

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Editorial Reviews

Literary Review
A carefully wrought compilation that does credit to its rich subject.
Washington Post
Ford's choice of stories is exemplary. . . there's wonderful reading here.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Academic anthologies, no matter how massive, tend to paint literature with a broad and representative brush. ``Best-of'' collections may dabble exclusively and exhaustively in a particular decade or school. Happily, Granta 's compendium of recent stories by American writers is neither. Culled from work published since 1944--the year Ford ( Rock Springs ) was born--the more than 40 stories in this 700-plus-page volume are an idiosyncratic array with few common threads connecting them. Apart from the 1944 cutoff date, Ford's only criteria, stated in his quirky, thoughtful introduction, are that the entries be ``ones I like--stories that have altered my appreciation of what a short story might surprisingly contain or be about; stories that by their brilliance have seemed to sanction the entire endeavor of being a writer.'' A story can be almost anything in his book, and his notion of an American ``allows an American to be anyone who persuasively claims to be one.'' Ford's liberal aesthetic sweeps us from (to name a very few) the Bowleses, Wallace Stegner and Grace Paley through the pivotal work of Donald Barthelme, William Gass and Robert Coover, to that of Jamaica Kincaid, Raymond Carver and Richard Bausch. This is hardly another case of rounding up the usual suspects; there are many surprises in the lineup--delightful ones. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781847080400
  • Publisher: Granta Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 782
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Ford
Richard Ford
Distinguished American writer Richard Ford is best known for a trilogy of prize-winning novels featuring one of the most unforgettable, deeply resonant characters in contemporary American fiction: Frank Bascombe, a middle-aged Everyman from suburban New Jersey.


Richard Ford lived with his parents in Jackson, Mississippi, until he was eight years old, at which time his father suffered a near-fatal heart attack. After that, he shuttled back and forth between his parents' home in Jackson and Little Rock, Arkansas, where his maternal grandparents managed a hotel. Ford describes his childhood as happy and contented -- at least until he was 16, when his father died and the young man began to seriously think about his future.

Although he attended Michigan State University with the vague intention of going into hotel management, Ford soon switched over to literature. After graduation, he married his college sweetheart, Kristina Hensley, but was having trouble settling on a career direction. He applied for several jobs (including the police and the CIA!) and even started law school. It was only after none of these panned out that he begin to consider writing for a living. On the advice of a former teacher, he applied to graduate school and was accepted into the University of California at Irvine, where he came under the happy, unexpected tutelage of Oakley Hall and E. L. Doctorow.

He began work on his first novel, the story of two drifters whose lives intersect on a desolate island in the Mississippi River. An excerpt appeared in The Paris Review, and the book was accepted for publication. In 1976, A Piece of My Heart was released to good reviews, but Ford bristled at being pigeonholed by critics as a regional writer. "I'm a Southerner, God knows," Ford said in an interview with the literary journal Ploughshares, "but I always wanted my books to exist outside the limits of so-called Southern writing."

In the early '80s, Ford's wife (who holds a Ph.D. in urban planning) was teaching at NYU, and the couple was living in Princeton, New Jersey. Disillusioned with novel writing, Ford took a job with the glossy New York magazine Inside Sports, but in 1982 the magazine folded, leaving him unemployed again. Tentatively he returned to fiction with the glimmer of a story idea based loosely on his most recent experiences. Several years in the making, The Sportswriter introduced Frank Bascombe, a middle-aged writer from suburban New Jersey who forsakes his promising literary career to pen articles for a glossy New York magazine. Published in 1986, the novel was named one of Time magazine's five best books of the year and was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award.

Ford claims that he never intended to write a trilogy around Frank Bascombe. But, in between other literary projects (including an acclaimed 1987 short story collection, Rock Springs), he found himself inexorably drawn back into the life of his melancholic protagonist. In 1995, the superb sequel, Independence Day, won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Then, in 2006, Ford concluded the saga with The Lay of the Land, a bittersweet set piece nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Although Ford modestly maintained that the only reason he won the Pulitzer Prize was that Philip Roth had not written a novel that year, in fact his angst-ridden suburban Everyman Frank Bascombe ranks alongside Roth's Nathan Zuckerman (or, for that matter, John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom) as one of American literature's most unforgettable, richly drawn characters. For a man who stumbled into writing with very little forethought or design, Richard Ford has indeed come far.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 16, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Jackson, Mississippi
    1. Education:
      B.A., Michigan State University, 1966; M.F.A., University of California, Irvine, 1970

Table of Contents

A Day in the Open 1
A Distant Episode 11
Blackberry Winter 23
O City of Broken Dreams 44
The Lottery 62
The View from the Balcony 71
No Place For You, My Love 91
The State of Grace 109
The Magic Barrel 119
Good Country People 135
In Time Which Made a Monkey of Us All 154
Sonny's Blues 170
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time 200
Welcome to the Monkey House 227
In the Zoo 244
A Poetics for Bullies 264
Upon the Sweeping Flood 281
The Indian Uprising 297
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country 303
A Solo Song: For Doc 328
The Babysitter 350
City Boy 376
White Rat 385
Are These Actual Miles? 393
Train 401
Fugue in A Minor 415
Here Come the Maples 423
Pretty Ice 434
Testimony of Pilot 440
Greenwich Time 463
Lechery 474
Liars in Love 482
The Circling Hand 514
Territory 527
Bridging 546
Greasy Lake 555
The Rich Brother 565
American Express 581
The Joy Luck Club 599
The Fireman's Wife 619
Hot Ice 641
You're Ugly, Too 669
The Things They Carried 688
Acknowledgments 707
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2002


    I read for enrichment, enlightenment, and enjoyment. Only a few stories out of the forty-three stories in this book were satisfying in this regard. Most were pointless, relatively plotless, and with flacid characters. There may be some high realist style here, but if so, the redeeming features escape me.

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