The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

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Overview


In The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Joyce Carol Oates offers a sweeping survey of American short fiction, in a collection of nearly sixty tales that combines classic works with many "different, unexpected" gems, and that invites readers to explore a wealth of important pieces by women and minority writers.

Some selections simply can't be improved on, Oates admits, and she happily includes such time-honored works as Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Poe's "The Tell-Tale ...

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Overview


In The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Joyce Carol Oates offers a sweeping survey of American short fiction, in a collection of nearly sixty tales that combines classic works with many "different, unexpected" gems, and that invites readers to explore a wealth of important pieces by women and minority writers.

Some selections simply can't be improved on, Oates admits, and she happily includes such time-honored works as Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." But alongside these often-anthologized tales, Oates introduces such little-known stories as Mark Twain's "Cannibalism in the Cars," a work that reveals a darker side to his humor. From Melville come the juxtaposed tales "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," of which Oates says, "only Melville could have fashioned out of 'real' events...such harrowing and dreamlike allegorical fiction." The reader will also delight in the range of authors found here, from Charles W. Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, and Sarah Orne Jewett, to William Carlos Williams, Kate Chopin, and Langston Hughes, to Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

For the second edition, Oates has introduced a wide range of new stories from writers who represent the state of American literature today. These new works include Lorrie Moore's "How to Become a Writer," Richard Ford's "Under the Radar," Junot Diaz's "Edison, New Jersey," David Foster Wallace's "Good People," Philip Roth's "Defender of the Faith," and Amy Hempel's "Today Will Be a Quiet Day." As in the original volume, Oates provides fascinating introductions to each writer, blending biographical information with her own trenchant observations about their work. In addition, she has written a new preface that contemplates our shifting literary culture, and has revised her introductory essay to the first edition, in which she offers the fruit of years of reflection on a genre in which she herself is a master.

The American short story--as seen through the eyes of a major American writer. Oates offers a sweeping survey of American short fiction in this collection of 56 tales which combines classic works with many "different, unexpected" gems. Alongside classics from Hemingway and Poe are little-known stories from Twain, Melville, Cheever, and O'Connor, as well as works from contemporary writers such as Amy Tan and Louise Erdrich.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"a substantial and superb treasury that will deepen every fiction collection".- Booklist

"She's provided a roster of authors that is both inclusive and rooted in the desire to showcase some of the best stories Americans have to offer.While this book is most likely to wind up in the hands of students, there's a lot here to recommend to readers in general."—Shelf Awareness

Praise for the first edition:

"Joyce Carol Oates has cast her net further and deeper, drawing from American literature's impressive past and substantial cultural wealth.... Exceptional."—Booklist

"More than a survey of writing styles. It is a celebration of the diversity of American culture."—Denver Post

"Readers who take an encompassing view of American literature and culture will love this book, which brilliantly captures the range and heft of the remarkable American contribution to the short story genre. With penetrating introductions by Joyce Carol Oates to each writer, this is an anthology of the finest kind, a collection of stories dazzling in variety but unified by an editor of singular intelligence and vision."—Arnold Rampersad, Princeton University

"Joyce Carol Oates, a master fabulist who is also one of our finest critics, has given us a treasury that represents the astonishing range of the American short story. But instead of another showcase of 'greatest hits,' Oates ventures further afield, to uncover a series of neglected but refulgent gems. This is a collection with guts—and brains. Best of all, it's a collection that unfolds, as its editor promises, the larger story of American writing, in all its hues and timbres."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

"A splendid volume of short stories which reflect the wealth of brilliance built up over the years by a wide ranging field of American writers. Oates has done an outstanding job in making this selection.... She does not always go for the well known stories by delights us with some that have remained somewhat obscure."—Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

"To a short story lover it is hard to think of a book that could give more pleasure."—Scotland on Sunday

Library Journal
In these lean times, it is difficult to imagine many libraries champing at the bit to purchase yet another anthology of American short stories. But institutions seeking to expand the diversity of their holdings in this area may find this collection the perfect choice. ``Familiar names, unfamiliar titles'' is the raison d'etre for this new volume. Along with some old chestnuts such as ``The Tell-Tale Heart'' and ``A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,'' editor Oates presents many fresh selections such as Edith Wharton's ``The Journey'' and John Cheever's ``The Death of Justina.'' She includes lesser-known minority and women writers such as Jean Toomer and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman alongside stories by newcomers Amy Tan, Louise Erdrich, and David Leavitt. Each author is given a brief biographical introduction. Recommended for serious literary collections.-- Rita Ciresi, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199744398
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 896
  • Sales rank: 87,335
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the National Book Award-winning author of over fifty novels, including bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, and The Gravedigger's Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

WASHINGTON IRVING (1783-1859)
Rip Van Winkle
WILLIAM AUSTIN (1778-1841)
Peter Rugg, the Missing Man
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (1804-1864)
The Wives of the Dead
EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849)
The Tell-Tale Heart
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE (1811-1896)
The Ghost in the Mill
HERMAN MELVILLE (1819-1891)
The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids
SAMUEL CLEMENS (1835-1910)
Cannibalism in the Cars
HENRY JAMES (1843-1916)
The Middle Years
SARA H ORNE JEWETT (1849-1909)
A White Heron
KA TE CHOPIN (1851-1904)
The Storm
MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN (1852-1930)
Old Woman Magoun
CHARLES CHESNUTT (1858-1932)
The Sheriff's Children
CHARLOTT E PERKINS GILMAN (1860-1935)
The Yellow Wallpaper
EDITH WHARTON (1862-1937)
A Journey
STEPHEN CRA NE (1871-1900)
The Little Regiment
WILLA CATHER (1873-1947)
A Death in the Desert
SHERWOOD ANDERSON (1876-1941)
The Strength of God
JACK LONDON (1876-1916)
In a Far Country
WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (1883-1963)
The Girl with a Pimply Face
H. P. LOVECRA FT (1890-1937)
The Rats in the Walls
JEAN TOOMER (1894-1967)
Blood-Burning Moon
F. SCOTT FITZGERA LD (1896-1940)
An Alcoholic Case
WILLIAM FAULKNER (1897-1962)
That Evening Sun
ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1899-1961)
Hills Like White Elephants
LANGSTON HUGHES (1902-1967)
Red-Headed Baby
RICHARD WRIGHT (1908-1960)
The Man Who Was Almost a Man
NELSON ALGREN (1909-1981)
A Bottle of Milk for Mother
EUDORA WELTY (1909-2001)
Where Is the Voice Coming From?
PAUL BOWLES (1910-1999)
A Distant Episode
JOHN CHEEVER (1912-1982)
The Country Husband
RA LPH ELLISON (1914-1994)
Battle Royal
BERNARD MALAMUD (1914-1986)
My Son the Murderer
SHIRLEY JACKSON (1916-1965)
The Lottery
RA Y BRA DBURY (b. 1920)
There Will Come Soft Rains
JAMES BALDWIN (1924-1987)
Sonny's Blues
FLANNERY O'CONNOR (1925-1964)
A Late Encounter with the Enemy
CYNTHIA OZICK (b. 1928)
The Shawl
DONALD BARTHELME (1931-1989)
The School
JOHN UPDIKE (1932-2009)
The Persistence of Desire
PHILIP ROTH (b. 1933)
Defender of the Faith
ANNIE PROULX (b. 1935)
The Mud Below
RA YMOND CARVER (1938-1988)
Are These Actual Miles?
JOYCE CAROL OATES (b. 1938)
Heat
RUSSELL BANKS (b. 1940)
The Child Screams and Looks Back at You
EDMUND WHITE (b. 1940)
Give It Up for Billy
RICHARD FORD (b. 1944)
Under the Radar
TOBIAS WOLFF (b. 1945)
Hunters in the Snow
TIM O'BRIEN (b. 1946)
The Things They Carried
STEPHEN KING (b. 1947)
The Reach
T. C. BOYLE (b. 1948)
Filthy with Things
AMY HEMPEL (b. 1951)
Today Will Be a Quiet Day
LOUISE ERDRICH (b. 1954)
Fleur
JEFFREY FORD (b. 1955)
The Drowned Life
HA JIN (b. 1956)
Children as Enemies
LORRIE MOORE (b. 1957)
How to Become a Writer
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE (1962-2008)
Good People
PINCKNEY BENEDICT (b. 1964)
Mercy
JHUMPA LAHIRI (b. 1967)
Hell-Heaven
JUNOT DÍAZ (b. 1968)
Edison, New Jersey

Author Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    Highly recommended.

    This is the best short story book on the market. We are reading it week-by week in our Short Story Group.

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  • Posted December 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Wonderful Read

    This book is full of good stories. It makes for an amazing read. Every anthology will inevitably leave something out or include something you could do without. As a book of great American short stories, I find it strange that they should have left out Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard To Find". Apart from that, this book is a wonderful collection of the best writers America has produced. A MUST read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2005

    Strangely Excellent

    There is a beautiful strangeness to each of these stories that Joyce has melded into an unsettling yet perfect whole. Any professor of an MFA program will do well to expose his or her students to these neglected gems. The anthology takes the reader/writer off the beaten path and opens his imagination to the ghostly jungle of possibility.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2005

    Who knew the classics could weaken a collection?

    The one drawback to Joyce Carol Oates's original and thorough approach to creating an anthology is that she does not always follow her own cardinal rule: to sample lesser-known but well-written American short stories. Her efforts introduce readers to gems like Hawthorne's 'The Wives of the Dead,' Crane's 'The Little Regiment,' and Barthelme's 'The School.' Where Oates falls short, however, is in including such familiar works as 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' 'The Yellow Wallpaper,' and 'Sonny's Blues.' I was sorely disappointed to see such texts here--not because they aren't extraordinary but rather because they contradict Oates's stated intentions for her anthology and because the professor who wishes to adhere to Oates's own goals must supplement the anthology to do so.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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