The Best American Short Stories 1998


Edited by beloved storyteller Garrison Keillor, this year's volume promises to be full of humor, surprises, and, as always, accomplished writing by new and familiar voices. 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 author.
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Edited by beloved storyteller Garrison Keillor, this year's volume promises to be full of humor, surprises, and, as always, accomplished writing by new and familiar voices. 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 author.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This year's editions of two well-known fiction anthologies have some similarities but more differences. Three stories appear in both volumes, among them the first-prize winner in the Prize Stories (PS) volume: Lorrie Moore's harrowing, unsentimentalized account of a sick child, "People Like That Are the Only People Here." Each also includes a different Western by E. Annie Proulx. The other selections seem to reflect the particular tastes of the editors. Keillor states up front in his introduction to Best American Short Stories (BASS) that his choices cover "your basic age-old themes" and that he likes stories that tell him "something true about somebody's life." Those he has selected, though ranging widely in voice, character, and setting, are mostly character-driven, realistic tales of interactions between families, friends, or lovers. In PS, Dark, while not ignoring the themes favored by Keillor, has made room for more experimental fiction, including Steven Millhauser's surreal "The Knife Thrower" and Rick Bass's allegorical "The Myths of Bears." It's generally a riskier collection than BASS, though both volumes contain enough variety to offer readers something to love as well as hate. Recommended for most collections.--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow
Kirkus Reviews
Radio host Keillor (Wobegon Boy, 1997, etc.) takes a station break and puts together this year's Best American collection. Most of the entries, it must be said, are a long way from "above average." The withering of the few mainstream journals still interested in fiction was a process underway long before Tina Brown stepped off the Concorde, but its effect is still being felt: the majority of pieces here have the sketchy, tentative feel of outlines, first drafts, orþsadder stillþmere scribblings rather than fully crafted narratives. Many are simple recollection pieces, like John Updike's elegiac, unsatisfying "My Father on the Verge" (a young man growing up in small-town Pennsylvania in the 1930s) or Poe Ballantine's even flatter "The Blue Devils of River Avenue" (a shy suburban boy's encounter with the disreputable family down the block). The "slice-of-life" genre is beginning to seem more and more like a sitcom in which nothing happens, although Carol Anshaw's "Elvis Has Left the Building," about the daily travails of a couple of lesbian friends, manages at least to wrap up several uninteresting characters in a modicum of wit. The more ambitious stories nearly all disappoint: Doran Larson's "Morphine" offers an undergraduate rendition of Molly Bloom's soliloquy, while Diane Schoemperlen's "Body Language" (on the less-than-blissful marriage of "he" and "she" from an anatomical perspective) is only slightly less pretentious. Among such company, more ordinary narratives like Tim Gatreaux's "Wedding With Children" (an old man attempts to provide some moral direction to his fatherless grandchildren) or Akhil Sharma's "Cosmopolitan" (an Indian immigrant has an unhappylove affair with an older American woman) come as something of a relief, if not much of a pleasure. For the trade only, as they say: a coffeetable book that few will want to crack.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395875148
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/1/1998
  • Series: Best American Short Stories Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 874,466
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Garrison Keillor
Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of the popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion and the best selling author of such books as Lake Wobegon Days, Happy to be Here, and The Book of Guys. He lives in New York City.


Garrison Keillor is the author of thirteen books, including Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, Wobegon Boy, and Lake Wobegon Days. From 1999-2001, Keillor wrote a column "Dear Mr. Blue: Advice for Lovers and Writers" on Keillor's popular Saturday-night public radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, is in its twenty-seventh season. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Gary Edward Keillor (real name)
      Garrison Keillor
    2. Hometown:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 7, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Anoka, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Minnesota, 1966

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