The Best American Short Stories 1997by Annie Proulx
The preeminent short FIction series since 1915, The Best American Short Stories is the only volume that annually offers the finest works chosen by a distinguished best-selling guest editor. This year, E. Annie Proulx's selection includes dazzling stories by Tobias Wolff, Donald Hall, Cynthia Ozick, Robert Stone, Junot D'az, and T. Coraghessan Boyle, as well as an… See more details below
The preeminent short FIction series since 1915, The Best American Short Stories is the only volume that annually offers the finest works chosen by a distinguished best-selling guest editor. This year, E. Annie Proulx's selection includes dazzling stories by Tobias Wolff, Donald Hall, Cynthia Ozick, Robert Stone, Junot D'az, and T. Coraghessan Boyle, as well as an array of stunning new talent. In her fascinating introduction, Proulx establishes categories for the stories by subject matter, such as "Identifying the Stranger" and "Perceived Social Values." She writes that beyond their strength and vigor, these stories achieve "a certain intangible feel for the depth of human experience, not uncommonly expressed through a kind of dry humor." As ever, this year's volume surprises and rewards.
That caveat aside, Proulx selects stories from almost all major venues, which makes series editor Kenison's ramblings about on-line mags, none represented, a bit silly. Combative and feisty, Proulx clearly prefers more conventional narrative forms, though the subjects here are free-ranging. Standouts include Jonathan Franzen's "Chez Lambert," a deft piece about an elderly couple and their daily lives in retirement. Equally textured and subtle is Jeffrey Eugenides's "Air Mail," a chronicle of its narrator's post-collegiate Wanderjahr, which takes him to the East and an apparent experience of spiritual ecstasy. Heavily determined by place are Pam Durban's southern family tale "Soon," about the legacies of tough-minded women; Donald Hall's anti-nostalgic "From Willow Temple," spanning the century in Michigan and revealing the secret passions of some unforgiving people; and Alison Hagy's "Search Bay," set on Michigan's Upper Peninsula and neatly reflecting the harsh life of its central figure, a retired seaman who lives alone. Richard Bausch defines the humor here with his hilarious "Nobody in Hollywood," about two wayward brothers and the difficult women they encounter. Karen E. Bender's "Eternal Love" provides a touching counterpoint with its tale of two retarded adults getting married. Michelle Cliff and T.C. Boyle, both writers with heavy hands, consider the ironies of race and colonialism (Cliff) and the pro-life movement (Boyle).
All in all, a strong sampling of what the major magazines (the New Yorker, Paris Review, GQ, etc.) are publishing these days.
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