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The Best American Short Stories 2013

The Best American Short Stories 2013

3.3 10
by Elizabeth Strout, Heidi Pitlor

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“As our vision becomes more global, our storytelling is stretching in many ways. Stories increasingly change point of view, switch location, and sometimes pack as much material as a short novel might,” writes guest editor Elizabeth Strout. “It’s the variety of voices that most indicates the increasing confluence of cultures involved in making


“As our vision becomes more global, our storytelling is stretching in many ways. Stories increasingly change point of view, switch location, and sometimes pack as much material as a short novel might,” writes guest editor Elizabeth Strout. “It’s the variety of voices that most indicates the increasing confluence of cultures involved in making us who we are.” The Best American Short Stories 2013 presents an impressive diversity of writers who dexterously lead us into their corners of the world.

In “Miss Lora,” Junot Díaz masterfully puts us in the mind of a teenage boy who throws aside his better sense and pursues an intimate affair with a high school teacher. Sheila Kohler tackles innocence and abuse as a child wanders away from her mother, in thrall to a stranger she believes is the “Magic Man.” Kirstin Valdez Quade’s “Nemecia” depicts the after-effects of a secret, violent family trauma. Joan Wickersham’s “The Tunnel” is a tragic love story about a mother’s declining health and her daughter’s helplessness as she struggles to balance her responsibility to her mother and her own desires. New author Callan Wink’s “Breatharians” unsettles the reader as a farm boy shoulders a grim chore in the wake of his parents’ estrangement.
“Elizabeth Strout was a wonderful reader, an author who knows well that the sound of one’s writing is just as important as and indivisible from the content,” writes series editor Heidi Pitlor. “Here are twenty compellingly told, powerfully felt stories about urgent matters with profound consequences.”


Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Plenty of great stories, but lighter on discovery and revelation than some previous annuals. For the reader whose consumption of short stories doesn't extend much beyond this yearly collection, the latest delivers the goods. With novelist Strout (The Burgess Boys, 2013, etc.) serving as guest editor and making the final selection, the collection includes a number of writers widely regarded as masters of the form: Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, George Saunders and Junot Díaz among them. Almost half of these stories originally appeared in either the New Yorker or Granta. Strout explains that voice was the dominant criterion in her selection: "Arguably, authorial voice is more important in a short story than in a longer piece of fiction. The ride is quicker, the response heightened, and less space is available in which to absorb patches of soggy writing or gratuitous detail." One of the quickest rides that generates the strongest response is "The Chair" by David Means, a first-person narration (as many of these stories are) by a father who can't be trusted to know himself, let alone do best by his son, as he finds himself "having to reestablish my command, or better yet, my guidance--a towering figure in his little mind...." Quite a few of these stories concern the essence of storytelling: "Stories are about things that don't happen. They could happen, but they don't. But they could" (Steven Millhauser, "A Voice in the Night"); "I'm Paul Harvey, and now you know the rest of the story" (Callan Wink, "Breatharians"). As always, the Contributors' Notes on the stories are fascinating, and writers will be encouraged to learn that one of the best stories here--"Horned Men" by Karl Taro Greenfeld--was rejected by some 50 publications before making it to print.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Best American Series
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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2 MB

Meet the Author

HEIDI PITLOR is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been the series editor for The Best American Short Stories since 2007. She is the author of the novels The Birthdays and The Daylight Marriage.

Brief Biography

Brooklyn, New York
Date of Birth:
January 6, 1956
Place of Birth:
Portland, Maine
B.A., Bates College, 1977; J.D., Syracuse College of Law, 1982

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The Best American Short Stories 2013 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Worst collection of short stories I have ever read!!! The editor should be ashamed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where have the good story tellers gone? When did "short story" lose the "story" part? Why does intelligent now equal grindingly boring?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont waist your time !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Were is the next one gonna be at
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A challenge to you all. If you have read the first three parts I want you to conduct your own ending at res five. I will check them all tomorrow evening.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Continue the story continue the story thats really good continue it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
~~~~~Hunter~~~~~ I slowly sat up feeling like one of my brothers dropped a brick on me. (Im speaking from experience.) I saw Makala laying on top of me. "Great." I muttered and sat up, waking Makala up. "What? Who?" Makala sat up and knoked her head up against me. "Ouch." I muttered, laying bak down. "Im so sorry, Hunter!" Makala said, getting off me nd pulling me to my feet. "Where are we?" I heard Amelia ask as she sat up. I looked around myself and frowned. "Definatly not in Makala's yard." I said. Then i noticed Savanna messing with a stick. "What is that?" I asked her as i walked over to her. She turned around wirh a wide grin on her face. "Its the eletric spear. For real!" She held it out to me and my eyes widened. I grabbed the smooth qood and i shocking pain ripped through my arms. "Ouch!" I yelped as i dropped it. "It shocked me!" I said in surprise. Amelia's eyes widened and felt behind her. She gasped and pulled a full on black bow from over her shoulder. "Theres even a quiver of gray shafted arrows." Makala smiled and over behind Amelia's other shoulder. Amelia reached her hand up and grabbed one of the arrows. "This is so cool." She muttered as she knocked the arrow on the string. It crackled suddenly with lightning. I smiled and reached for my belt. My fingers wrapped around a small smooth piece of wood. I pulled it out and saw it was. "The Lava Wand." I muttered, remembering the voice from before i woke up. Makala squealed like a fangirl and dug her hand into her coat pocket and pulled out a wand that looked like mine, but with blue instead of red. "This is already the best game ever." Amelia smiled. "But its not a game heroes." Came a voice behind us. I wheeled around and pointed my wand at the speaker. "Dont shoot Master Hunter!" The man yelped, putting his hands up. I lowered my wand and looked at him. "Who are you?" I asked. Savanna walked up behind me and peeked over my shoulder. Ameila put the arrow away and swung the bow over her shoulder. "I am Riley Woodsman." The man said. Everyone looked up at the name. My little brother's name is Riley Wooden. That cant be a coidence. Or can it? "I was sent to bring Master Hunter, Knight Amelia, Princess Makala, and Mage Savanna to the castle of this mighty land. "May i ask where is this mighty land?" Amelia asked, stepping forward. I was planning on naming the game Warroirs of Galica. "This is the land of Galica." Riley said. "What!" I yelped. Savanna and Makala were just as startled because i told them before tjid mess happened. Amelia seemingly ignored us and nodded. "Lead the way then, Mr. Woodsman." She smiled. "P-Please Knight Amelia. Call me Servent Riley." I smirked. "That does have a nice ring to it." I smiled and Makala punched my shoulder. "Hunter!" She hissed. I nodded. "Fine fine. Lets go then." I put my wand back in my belt and followed Amelia. "Sense when were you so good in thr midevil time language?" I asked curiously. "Sense i read the Ranger's Apprentice series." She smiled. I rolled my eyes. She was just obsesed with books. And the lasted were that Ranger series. She's been trying to get everyone to read them for some reason. Savanna smiled. "Master Hunter, Knight Amelia, Mage Savanna, and Princess Makala." She mussed. "I like being a mage." Makala smiled. "I wonder why Amelia seems so at rest here." I wondered. "She does have a big imagination." Savanna said. "True. But what if its something else?" I said. "She did say she was adopted. But from where?"