The Best American Short Stories 1997

The Best American Short Stories 1997

by Annie Proulx
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although guest editor Proulx has arranged this year's 21 storiesas if for a high-school textbookin thematic clusters ("Perceived Social Values," "Rites of Passage," etc.), what really distinguishes the collection is the sly sense of humor to be found in many of its offerings. Richard Bausch's surreal "Nobody in Hollywood" displays a madcap comedy that serves this usually more restrained writer well, while Cynthia Ozick's "Save My Child!" gives a wry glimpse at the cultural misunderstandings between a retired New York lawyer (Ozick's redoubtable Puttermesser) and the materialistic young Russian cousin who comes for a visit and takes over her apartment. Tim Gautreaux's "Little Frogs in a Ditch," in which a shiftless young man plans to sell garden variety pigeons as homing pigeons, also draws a surprising amount of wisdom from its comic premise. But the best pieces here are, perhaps, the darkest: Robert Stone's "Under the Pitons," about an uneasy band of drug smugglers aboard a boat, and T. Coraghessan Boyle's surprisingly bleak and genuinely shocking "Killing Babies," which portrays a recovering crackhead's violent confrontation with anti-abortion protesters. Although not every story here lives up to its author's reputation, Proulx has proved herself an eclectic reader and has followed in the tradition of earlier editors, assembling fine recent work from the most talked-about practitioners of the form. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
Over 80 years old, this admirable series might consider a new rule: No stories included that will appear in book form before the "best" volume does. The latest entry features quite a few already reviewed by Kirkus as parts of story collections (Lydia Davis, Junot Díaz, Tobias Wolff, Tim Gautreaux, etc.) and even novels (by Cynthia Ozick and Clyde Edgerton).

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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395798652
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/31/1997
Series:
Best American Short Stories Series
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.28(h) x 1.09(d)

Meet the Author

E. Annie Proulx's novel The Shipping News recieved the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. er other books include Heart Songs and Other Stories, Post Cards, and The Accordian Crimes. She currently lives in Wyoming.

Katrina Kenison has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 1990. She currently resides in Massachusetts.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
LaBarge, Wyoming
Date of Birth:
August 22, 1935
Place of Birth:
Norwich, Connecticut
Education:
Attended Colby College in the 1950s. B.A., University of Vermont, 1969; M.A., Sir George Williams University, 1973

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