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TURNITIN.COM: (www.turnitin.com)—this new online resource is now available free to professors using SHORT FICTION, FIFTH EDITION. Turnitin.com, formerly Plagiarism.org, is a powerful tool to help instructors identify and prevent student plagiarism on the Web.
I. INTRODUCTION TO SHORT FICTION.
II. READING FICTION.
III. SHORT FICTION.
IV. CONTEXT: WRITERS ON WRITING.
V. APPROACHING FICTION CRITICALLY.
VI. WRITING ABOUT FICTION.
I have been using this text in my courses since the late 1980s, and it has always met my needs as an instructor. I've yet to meet a group of students who didn't thrill to "A&P," "The Lottery," "Young Goodman Brown," "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Story of an Hour," "Araby," "Hills Like White Elephants," "The Chrysanthemums," "The Cask of Amontillado," "A Worn Path," "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," and "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," just to name a dozen of the short stories that comprise a kind of pedagogical canon. So this new edition remains much the same in that it includes richly powerful short stories from nineteenth and twentieth centuries from the United States, Canada, England, Europe, Russia, Africa, Japan, and Central and South America-89 writers from the previous edition. In fact, 64 of the 80 writers that Charles Bohner chose for the first edition are still included in this, the fifth edition. I believe thatany instructor will find a large number of his or her longtime favorites.
But a good deal has happened in fiction and in teaching since the 1980s. And in this revision, I have tried to include some of the changes that struck me as positive. One of those, which previous editions reflected, is the inclusion of women and writers of color. I have attempted to continue that movement with the inclusion of Isabel Allende, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Leslie Dick, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Mary Gaitskill, Susan Glaspell, Gish Jen, Mary Shelley, Leslie Marmon Siko, Susan Sontag, Jeanette Winterson, Sherman Alexie, Julio Cortazar, Carlos Fuentes, Ernest J. Games, Dagoberto Gilb, Hanif Kureishi, Tomas Rivera, and Salman Rushdie. This new edition also adds writers who are openly gay and lesbian or who write about gay and lesbian issues: Castillo, Winterson, David Leavitt, and Reynolds Price, plus a new "Writers on Writing" selection by Dorothy Allison.
In another area, I felt the anthology was about to fall out of step concerning the age of its writers. It was beginning to look like "contemporary" short fiction was by writers born between 1920 and 1945. In the first edition, Perri Klass, born in 1958, was the youngest writer. In the fourth edition, Perri Klass was still the youngest writer. In this new edition, instead of there being four writers born from 1950 forward (as in the fourth edition), there are now well over a dozen, with several born in the 1960s. I believe their inclusion will be welcomed as their work expands not only the subject matter of short fiction, but also the technique and tonal range. Many instructors, like me, will remember when Raymond Carver and Bobbie Anne Mason were the newest thing in town. No more, it seems time to make room for Alexie, Gaitskill, Wallace, and Winterson.
Finally, I have tried to effect a minor shift in the overall feel of the anthology. In looking at previous editions of this book and at other anthologies, I began to sense, how else can I phrase it, a lessening of intellectual rigor and emotional complexity. For this reason, I have included such writers as Cortazar, Dick, Kundera, Rushdie, de Sade, Sartre, Sontag, Wallace, and Winterson. I wish I could have included more. Also included are eight writers featured as "Writers in Depth." Each of these eight writers is represented with three short stories and at least one "Context: Writers on Writing" selection. This feature allows the teacher to focus on the work of one writer, or taken together present a tour of the short story from nineteenth-century Poe, Chekhov, and Chopin to early modernism in Kafka to late twentieth-century American literature in Ellison, Rivera, Walker, and Silko.
Last, many new features have been added to the text. Two sections, those covering the elements of fiction and writing about fiction, have been rewritten and revised. The section concerning the elements of fiction now includes passages of annotated short stories, illustrating how such matters as characterization or setting occur in fiction. The explanation of writing about fiction now includes material concerning researching writers and fiction. Also included are discussions and examples of various purposes in writing about fiction, including sample essays. In addition, two new sections have been added to the anthology. The first concerns the process of reading short fiction, understanding what readers bring to a story, placing a short story in context with other fictional works, and reacting to works of fiction. The second presents the established schools of literary criticism, from New Criticism to Ecocriticism to Post-Structuralism.
In short, in revising this classic text, I have attempted to make it even more useful for the contemporary reader and classroom. Its features include:
As we all know, behind any effort such as this one are many people who need to be thanked. Wives and families are always acknowledged last, but I want to thank Colleen, Jacob, and Will first. There is no way that working on a book such as this, after a full day of teaching, does not cut into time that rightfully belongs to the family. You all have been very understanding and supportive.
I also want to thank several of my colleagues at Austin Community College, some of whom I have worked with for over twenty years: Hazel Ward, Joe Lostracco, Lennis Polnac, Bill Durham, Joe Hoppe, Judy Sanders, Paula Robertson Rose, Prudence Arceneaux, and Chris Webb. Many of their suggestions have improved this book directly and powerfully.
I also want to thank Savannah Mayfield and Rich Perrin, former students, for their suggestions and advice. To Sue Burns at Book Woman, thanks for directing me to Jeanette Winterson. To Erich Schliebe, my nephew, now a graduate student in English, thank you for your computer searches—for every writer in this book, I might add. Great work!
I would like to thank the administration of Austin Community College, who granted me a leave of absence and a sabbatical to complete this text and to teach and complete some course work at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M University I would like to thank Jimmie Killingsworth, Paul Christensen, and Tom Murphy and the other folks at the Brazos River Review.
I also want to thank the NEH and Mark Busby at Southwest Texas State University. I was privileged to spend the month of June 2000 in San Marcos, Texas, studying the history, geography, anthropology, music, art, and literature of the Southwest in a Summer Faculty Institute titled Traversing Borders. Mark Busby put together a wonderfully educational seminar. I would like to thank all my fellow participants in this institute, but would especially like to thank Jesse Aleman (University of New Mexico), Patrick Duffy (Austin College), Amy Gilmour (St. Mary's University), David Lee (Southern Utah University), Patricia Price (Florida International University), Don Scheese (Gustavus Adlophus College), John Wegner (Angelo State University), and Kathleen Wright (Orange County Community College). In our conversations, they probably had no idea how much they were contributing. I must, however, like to single out Stephen Swords of Eastern Illinois University. Nothing beats talking literature with someone who has fire in his belly and light in his eyes.
I have also been privileged to work with the very talented editors at Prentice Hall. Many thanks to Carrie Brandon for her trust, support, and vision for this book.
Thanks also to Craig Campanella and to Leah Jewell for their support and expertise on this project and on Commonsense: A Handbook and Guide for Writers.
Finally, a thank you to all my students. Everyone—professional educators, parents, newspaper pundits—has a pet theory about, a generational nickname for, and an all-too-wise criticism of you. But this is what I have seen and continue to see: Many young adults, and some older ones, too, struggling in and with a culture that expects you to go to college, make the grades, and simultaneously to meet all your expenses for rents, automobiles, insurance, books, tuition, medical care, and food. On top of that, we've raised you in a culture that entertains you with violence, entices you with erotic images, freely offers you illegal drugs and alcohol, and defines your success by the size of your paycheck. Then we harshly judge you if you happen to acquire a handgun, STD, drug and alcohol addiction, or a suspicion of the value of the liberal arts. Nor, in this land of liberty and individualism, do you have to live very long to find yourself demonized because you are somehow different. I want you to know that I admire your hard work, your dedication to the long process of higher education, and your ability to sift through the stories our culture gives you and to create your own life, your own life story, one that nurtures and sustains you. I wish you happy and profitable reading and writing.
Austin and College Station
Posted October 18, 2009
No text was provided for this review.