100 Years of the Best American Short Stories

100 Years of the Best American Short Stories

Book - 2015
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Collects forty short stories published between 1915 and 2015, from writers that include Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, and Alice Munro that exemplify their era and stand the test of time.
Publisher: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780547485850
0547485859
Characteristics: xxi, 723 pages ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Moore, Lorrie
Pitlor, Heidi
Ferber, Edna 1887-1968 Gay old dog
Anderson, Sherwood 1876-1941 Brothers
Hemingway, Ernest 1899-1961 My old man
Lardner, Ring 1885-1933 Haircut
Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Francis Scott), 1896-1940 Babylon revisited
Porter, Katherine Anne 1890-1980 Cracked looking-glass
Faulkner, William 1897-1962 That will be fine
Hale, Nancy 1908-1988 Those are as brothers
Welty, Eudora 1909-2001 Whole world knows
Cheever, John Enormous radio
Olsen, Tillie I stand here ironing
Baldwin, James 1924-1987 Sonny's blues
Roth, Philip Conversion of the Jews
O'Connor, Flannery Everything that rises must converge
Updike, John Pigeon feathers
Carver, Raymond 1938-1988 Will you please be quiet, please?
Oates, Joyce Carol 1938- By the river
Barthelme, Donald School
Elkin, Stanley 1930-1995 Living end
Paley, Grace Friends
Baxter, Charles 1947- Harmony of the world
Simpson, Mona Lawns
Ford, Richard 1944- Communist
Stone, Robert 1937-2015 Helping
Louie, David Wong 1954- Displacement
Munro, Alice 1931- Friend of my youth
Gaitskill, Mary 1954- Girl on the plane
Kincaid, Jamaica Xuela
Sharma, Akhil 1971- If you sing like that for me
Díaz, Junot 1968- Fiesta
Lahiri, Jhumpa Third and final continent
Packer, ZZ. Brownies
Alexie, Sherman 1966- What you pawn I will redeem
Jones, Edward P. Old boys, old girls
Percy, Benjamin Refresh, refresh
Wolff, Tobias 1945- Awaiting orders
Englander, Nathan What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank
Otsuka, Julie 1962- Diem perdidi
Saunders, George 1958- Semplica-girl diaries
Groff, Lauren At the round Earth's imagined corners

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c
CoReCH4LR
Sep 13, 2017

I don't enjoy short stories as a rule, but found this book interesting in letting me sample a variety of authors, some well-known and some I'd never heard of before. I like best the Sherman Alexi story (some humor and a lot of outlook on the American Indian experience from one of their own). Philip Roth's story was a pleasant surprise as I have never enjoyed his writings and after two attempts at his earlier novels, skip over him. I found this tale a good "coming of age" take on something that may or may not have really happened. It was also interesting to read, or at least try to get into some very well-known and venerated authors and finding them not much to my liking - but at least I now have an idea of why I don't care to read certain authors.

2
2208848131
Jul 07, 2017

Look I know this took me two months to finish but I have a very good reason for that, alright? These stories are all so dense, each one like a rich, delicate cheesecake. You don't just eat 40 cheesecakes in a week, do you? No, you eat one whole cheesecake every day, like an average American. So that is what I did, I read a story each day or every other day, giving these stories time to sink in, enjoying each delicious sentence as I wandered through the history of one of America's finest publications.

***

A Goodreads review could not possibly cover the scope of these stories so I will just highlight the very best of the best. To start from the beginning, F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited" is a great story about a man's love for his daughter and the alcoholism that prevents their being together. It's so good that it makes me want to revisit Fitzgerald's other works even after attempting to read that boring Gatsby book (Come at me, nerds). John Cheever's "The Enormous Radio" is a strange tale of domestic life with a supernatural twist, while James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" tells the story of a drug-addicted jazz pianist from his brother's perspective, and describes music more beautifully than any writing I've ever seen.

***

As this tome moved into authors of more recent years, I worked my way through absurd and poignant stories like Mona Simpson's "Lawns", about a girl trying to break off a physical relationship with her father as she makes her way through college. There were also more diverse stories of people affected by colonialism and immigration, such as in Jamaica Kincaid's "Xuela" and Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Third and Final Continent." There isn't much sci-fi or satire to speak of other than George Saunders' "The Semplica-Girls Diaries" which is an incredible story that makes you identify with people from two sides of a point of contention. But probably the best story of all, in my estimation, is "What You Pawn I will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie. No story in this volume is written more clearly, more effectively, or more humorously while relating very serious problems plaguing native American people. If you read only one story from the collection, that's the one to read.

***

There were some stories I skipped as you can only eat so many flavors of cheesecake before you find one that doesn't sit well, but even if it's not a perfect collection, it is still a great collection for its sheer coverage and scope. Reading from cover to cover provides a fascinating look at the history of the American short story, showing how our perspectives, ideals, and stories have changed so dramatically, while still remaining so essentially American. Now if you'll excuse me, I've eaten quite a bit of cheesecake and may need to regurgitate some of it onto my own paper. For isn't that what writing is at its most basic? Taking the ideas of others, digesting them, and creating your own projects from their inspiration? I don't know. The one thing I do know is that I could really go for some cheesecake.

***

More Reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/mancolepig

1
1_Great_Book
Feb 01, 2016

Nehhhhhhhh.

Very little from early years and most from 1970's to present day. Could be more balanced. There are NOT more good stories today than there were years ago. I expected the very best through all the decades. Big, chunky heavy book not conducive to reading.

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