THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2011 edited by Geraldine Brooks

This year’s editor of THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2011 is Geraldine Brooks, an accomplished journalist and fiction writer. She says of her selections “that the easiest and the first choices were the stories to which I had a physical response.” I would agree that the best stories in this collection are those that are most visceral and physical in nature. Ms. Brooks also states that “In the end, the stories I fell upon with perhaps the greatest delight were the outliers, the handful or so that defied the overwhelming gravitational pull toward small-canvas contemporary realism.”

October 5, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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THE BORROWER by Rebecca Makkai

Debut novelist and elementary schoolteacher Rebecca Makkai combines a wily, madcap road trip with socially poignant conundrums and multiple themes in this coming-of-age story about a twenty-six-year-old children’s librarian, Lucy Hull, and a ten-year-old precocious book lover, Ian Drake, in fictional Hanibal, Missouri. (Guess who is coming-of-age? Answer: not so evident.)

Lucy isn’t entirely sure that she’s a reliable narrator—part of our reading pleasure is to figure that out. She tells us in the enigmatic prologue “I’m not the hero of this story.” Is she the villain? And, if she is not the hero, who is? The answers turn out to be thoughtfully complex and yet exquisitely simple for those of us–and only for those of us–whose love of reading is almost religious (upside down pun there).

July 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Debut Novel, Reading Guide, US Southwest

THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2010 edited by Richard Russo

THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2010 was edited by Richard Russo, this year. The collection contains a wide range of stories selected both from some of the most well-known and most obscure magazines and anthologies. The stories, on the whole, are impressive and I was spellbound by many of them. Usually, in a collection of twenty stories, there will be five or less that really speak to me. Here there were nine.

The foreword by series editor Heidi Pitlor speaks eloquently and poignantly to her belief that “it is indisputable that American literary journals are in danger.” She encourages readers to “subscribe to one literary journal, either on paper or online. Buy a short story collection by a young author. We must support our smaller magazines if we are to support our talented new writers.” The stories selected for this anthology were all written between January 2009 and January 2010 by American or Canadian authors. Pitlor narrowed her selection to 250 stories and Richard Russo selected the final twenty.

October 3, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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