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on an essay for Granta, reviewing for the New York Times Book Review, editing The Best American Short. Stories , writing a new novel. The Best Short Stories of and the Yearbook of the American Short Story by Edward J. O' . The Best American Short Stories by Richard Russo, NPR coverage of The Best American Short Stories by Richard Russo and Heidi Pitlor. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
Was I at all helpful? Did they find any peace or comfort? Could they tell when I liked them or didn't feel connected to them? Did they ever leave or marry or trust so-and-so?
All those unanswered questions…sometimes it's nice to imagine those answers, and I think this story does a bang-up job of doing that. September - I read a few more stories over this past week and again, a few stood out. I love his viewpoint - it's so hard to make a main character who is simultaneously completely self-centered and still sympathetic, still someone who you can understand their viewpoint.
There are so many wonderful father and son tales out there, and this one stands all of them on their heads, in a way. I think that the older we get, the more we begin to re-examine the moments which have made up our lives, the ones that we nurse and sulk over as we grow into adults. Those moments when you think you understand yourself and your family dynamic, only to look at the story from a slightly different point of view and wonder - have I been wrong this whole time?
The older we get, the more complicated our family relationships become, particularly with our parents. As we age, we get more information, but it is compounded with more stories, more details. That doesn't necessarily need to more wisdom though, does it?
Find the moment a choice was made that made other choices impossible. Characters shouldn't realize things: I don't really have a lot to say about this particular one, except that it perfectly captures what it's like to be not only a child, but an outsider child.
One where you know you don't fit, you understand that the peers and adults around you operate a different frequency from you, but you can't for the life of you figure out how to get on that frequency. January, - I know I finished this some time in December, but now for the life of me I can't think of when. The last five stories in the book were good, but definitely nothing memorable, save for one.
That story was lovely in its pain and artfulness. The characters were deep and real and raw. You could really sense what it is to love, to be lonely, to want, to lose. In other words, a perfect cowboy story. Oct 25, Brad Hodges rated it really liked it. When it comes to short stories, I have a particular like.
I tend to enjoy stories that are funny, and that have a plot arc. Those stories that are meditative and in which not much happens don't do much for me. As one would imagine, the latest volume of Best American Short Stories a series that goes back over thirty years has some stories that I thought were wonderful and some that I thought were ho-hum, and one that I could not make heads or tails of. I give guest editor Richard Russo credit fo When it comes to short stories, I have a particular like.
I give guest editor Richard Russo credit for making his selection broad enough in scope so as to seem all the same. I know I would be tempted to.
There are twenty stories here, arranged in alphabetical order by author. One of my favorites led things off, "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched," by Steve Almond, a comic tale of a psychologist who is treating a professional poker player. Another favorite is "Painted Ocean, Painted Ship," by Rebecca Makai, about a Coleridge scholar who finds herself cursed after she shoots an albatross, and "The Cowboy Tango," a gorgeous story by Maggie Shipstead about unrequited love on a dude ranch.
In the next tier I would add these stories with exceptionally long titles: Joshua Ferris' "The Valetudinarian," about an elderly man getting the gift of a prostitute for his birthday, starts promisingly, but I found that it fell apart at the end. Kevin Moffett's "Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events" is a bit of a mind-bender, with the story about a short-story writer and all the rules of writing, which Moffett proceeds to break, one by one. It may have been because I read this story before going to bed, but I had no idea what was happening in it, although I perk up at the pornographic elements of it.
I solidly enjoyed a good three-quarters of the stories, though, so it was well worth the investment. May 27, Paul Cockeram rated it really liked it. One standout story in this collection is Steve Almond's "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched," a tale of modern-day hubris focused through the fashionable lenses of poker and therapy.
Another story of our cultural moment comes in "Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go," in which Danielle Evans processes the war in Iraq and the inevitable damage to its soldiers and their families. I like the voice of that piece a lot--its frantic, cynical bewilderment over how to give our dear ones what One standout story in this collection is Steve Almond's "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched," a tale of modern-day hubris focused through the fashionable lenses of poker and therapy.
I like the voice of that piece a lot--its frantic, cynical bewilderment over how to give our dear ones what they want without understanding at all why they want it. When the main character's daughter wants to see the latest young, hypersexualized singing act, he finds he cannot escape the singer, Mindy, who "was on the side of the bus they took to the zoo. Mindy was on the nightly news, and every other commercial between kids' TV shows. Mindy was on the radio, lisping, 'Pop my bub-ble, pop pop my bub-ble.
Rebecca Makkai and James Lasdun turn in some eerie page-turners, but the funniest story has to be "My Last Attempt to Explain to You What Happened with the Lion Tamer," with its priceless first line, "He wasn't even a good lion tamer, not before you showed up.
Two stories, "The Netherlands Lives with Water" and "Raw Water," look forward into the near future in order to explore some dystopian consequences of global warming and genetic engineering, respectively. All the stories repay the reading, though a few stories might be better skimmed.
Richard Russo seems to enjoy an eclectic taste. With its diversity of mood, theme, setting, and character, there is sure to be at least one stand-out story in this collection for every reader. Okay guys, It's seven in the morning in the land of the midnight sun. This collection is by definition eclectic. I found it annoying. It is somehow difficult to switch between different styles, personalities of authors, their approaches to telling a story. It feels, pardon the term, promiscuous.
The language of all stories is precise, polished and beautiful. I am jealous. Mo Okay guys, It's seven in the morning in the land of the midnight sun. Moreover, in his introduction, the editor stated that he appreciated when the author's command of the language was used to move the story forward rather than to show off.
It felt this way to me as well. Many stories, though, irritated me for the lack power in them. The authors added short descriptions to their stories at the end of the book: It was an interesting glimpse into creative process. However, it did show why there often was no punch to a story: To a lot of authors, a short story is a kind of literary still life: The stories are seldom drawn from the authors' personal experiences. They sound fake. The authors proudly talked about how to came up with the characters, how they borrowed particularly sexy lines.
It was offputting. A couple of stories had sci-fi elements in them. I guess, due to my early-in-life overdose of sci-fi, they read particularly phony. I think it is just not my cup of vodka.
I like the stories raw, relationships effed up and hopeless or at least grim, future -- uncertain, hope -- ephemeral, life -- deadly. Jun 10, Rhonda Browning White rated it it was amazing. I had an assignment to read four stories from this collection, but I couldn't stop there.
Russo has done a great job of picking twenty powerful short stories from the hundred or is it two hundred? It would be difficult to narrow these stories down to my favorites, but the ones I most loved, I suppose, are the ones that I can recall off the top of my head, as the characters really stuck with me. Lauren Groff's "Delicate Edible Birds" r I had an assignment to read four stories from this collection, but I couldn't stop there.
Lauren Groff's "Delicate Edible Birds" relates the heartbreaking story of a woman reduced to offering her body in exchange for freedom during the German takeover of Paris. I'd read this before in "Glimmer Train," but couldn't resist reading it again.
Ron Rash's "The Ascent" haunted me the night I read it. How I wanted to rescue that child! Lori Ostlund's "All Boy" gave new meaning to coming "out of the closet. Marlin Barton's "Into Silence" pulled off something I'd never have the guts to attempt--a main character who is deaf. Yet he did it with grace, holding our hands as he led us into her silence.
Barton is an acquaintance. Regardless, this is an amazing story. Joshua Ferris's "The Valetudinarian" made me laugh out loud, but though the ending was sad, it left me feeling weightless. Okay, you get the picture. I can't wait until the anthology comes out! Dec 24, D Fisher rated it it was amazing.
Just the introduction about Isaac Bashevis Singer is worth the price of the book. One way or another I enjoyed all twenty stories, but my least favorites were McSweeney's futuristic experimental stories, which both started off promising but went on too long and fell flat at certain crucial points.
Some of my favorites were: Safari by Jennifer Egan: Excellent writing, the sudden leaps into the future were so well done. Someone ought to tell her by Danielle Evans: But the characters, whom I later Just the introduction about Isaac Bashevis Singer is worth the price of the book. But the characters, whom I later found out are supposed to be black, didn't strike me at all that way. The Hollow by James Lasdun: A beautiful contrast of the old tradition vs the new.
I fell in love with the main character and wanted to read this again as soon as I finished it, it was quite hilarious at times. The Ascent by Ron Rash: A kid caught in a bad situation.
So beautiful yet haunting.
Everyone should read a story like this. Further Interpretations and Into Silence were very moving portraits of the relationships between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. But my two best stories were: Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff: An observation on the effects of war on people, it's so wonderfully written yet subtle in its effects, building slowly until its inevitable satisfying conclusion.
Cowboy Tango by Maggie Shipstead: You simply have to read this story. Unrequited love is a pain in the ass. All in all, an excellent collection. Dec 24, Hayden Trenholm rated it really liked it Shelves: Like most collections, this was a mixed bag. There were a couple, I simply didn't finish, but most were pretty solid literary efforts with a few trying their hand at literary genre mystery or SF with usually less that stellar results.
Many were moving though they tended to be on the depressing side; a few were laugh out loud funny. Steve Almond's "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punished" opens the book very strongly but was followed by one of the stories I couldn't finish.
Not a great beginning -- Like most collections, this was a mixed bag. Not a great beginning -- perhaps that was why it took a year to finish. Jennifer Egan's "Safari" was solid but would have been better without the metafictional ending. The book ends with Wells Tower's "Raw Water," easily the best of the genre tinged story though the ending was weak and somewhat predictable. If you like literary fiction, this is a good intro to a lot of fine writers. It also makes me want to subscribe to Tin House -- where many of my favorite stories were originally published.
Jun 11, Steve rated it really liked it Shelves: Another excellent collection! And this year's Foreword is well worth reading. So now it's time for everyone's favorite game - which did you like most?
Looking forward to her books. Someone publish a book by this writer! I was also impressed by Egan, Ferris and Obrecht, rising stars I hadn't read before. It's cute but gimmicky and has no character development, just types. You know how it will play out from the first page. I was also disappointed in Charles Baxter's story, though I normally love Baxter, and I thought Wells Tower's story was an empty exercise, and I've read much better stories by him.
Anyone have any tips from the backlist of further recommended stories?
I'm eager to try more. Jul 28, Clark rated it it was amazing. I thought this was a really, really great edition of Best American Short Stories. I think the highest hit-to-miss ratio of any collection I've read recently. Of special note were the following: We're always actively growing more distant from our past and leaving friends and relatives behind.
I thought this story was a nice reminder of that fact and how hard it is to get back in touch. Loved the shifting perspectives in a WWII story that was gripping and beautifully written.
Still on my mind weeks later. I read this story several years ago in its original publication in McSweeney's. I liked it even more on second read. The ending was a perfectly played note that just hung in the air for minutes after, resonating.
A story so good that I still think about it often even years after the first time I read it. One of my all-time favorite short stories.
It was a joy to watch them dig themselves in deeper. This is a book I dipped into over the course of several months when I was between novels. When I finish reading a full-length novel and especially when I've enjoyed it , I'm reluctant to dive right into another lengthy story.
Yet, I am a fiction addict. So a short story collection fits the bill. Not every story was a winner, but that's why we slog through these collections -- for the stand-outs.
And stand-outs there were. Some of my favorites which made the book worth the price of admission: Least This is a book I dipped into over the course of several months when I was between novels. Keep thinking about what it all meant. Quite Stephen King-esque. A decent collection of short fiction overall.
Oct 20, Barry rated it really liked it Shelves: I'd been wanting to jump on these collections since I realised they existed about 6 months ago now, but with not knowing where to start, and some quiet mixed reviews of previous years on here, I decided to wait for the edition, and Mr. Russo hasn't disappointed with this cracking collection. I'm not really one for review writing so I won't go into details about each story, but out of the twenty here, only two could I class anywhere near not having enjoyed all that much, which is a much bett I'd been wanting to jump on these collections since I realised they existed about 6 months ago now, but with not knowing where to start, and some quiet mixed reviews of previous years on here, I decided to wait for the edition, and Mr.
I'm not really one for review writing so I won't go into details about each story, but out of the twenty here, only two could I class anywhere near not having enjoyed all that much, which is a much better attrition rate than any previous collections I've read.
Essential to anyone who loves the art of the short story. While being very hard to narrow down, here are the stories that really stood out for me Originally to be be a top five, but I just enjoyed far too many.
Oct 16, Sean rated it really liked it. This year's - wait, last year's - Best American Short Stories is a great collection. It's not that some years are bad; it's that the editor's picks don't jibe with my sensibilities, tastes or whatever those things are that make me like one order of sentences and choice of words over another. There are no weak link stories in this collection. I want to read the collection again because right now I don't even remember them all! The second reading of a story is usually deeper, and more rewarding for me anyway.
I could hear echoes of Richard Russo's voice in the stories; in all the writing there is the pathos of people doing their best but knowing struggle and sabotage as hard habit, and an always honest, sometimes weary humor.
And all the stories are so personal. None of them skim the water, there's just a plunge happening. Thanks for the collection Mrs Pitlor and Mr Russo. Jan 21, Jessica rated it liked it Shelves: I always think this year will be different In this year's collection, there actually were a few stories with experimental styles "P. Perhaps I'm just tired of the literary short story. I felt that if these stories stood in a lineup, it would be very difficult to pin the writer on the story. Tone, language, character, and even sentence length are very similar in most of the stories.
Some I liked: There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers Also Enjoyed. Short Stories. About Richard Russo. Richard Russo. Other books in the series. The Best American Short Stories 1 - 10 of 91 books. Books by Richard Russo. Trivia About The Best American No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from The Best American Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Unearthing such insight on page 44 instead of page is a bit like watching a successful squeeze bunt score a runner from third—just as exciting as a home run, but a shorter trip and a rarer treat.
An entertaining and compellingly provocative read. Russo rarely wastes a word, interweaving details and dialogue into master classes on storytelling. Very few writers so thoroughly embrace human foibles, or present them in such an accepting and empathetic manner. That Old Cape Magic started out as a short story. I figured twenty pages, tops. It turned out to be pages in print, longer in manuscript.
How could I have been so wrong? A good piece of fiction, regardless of length, is a collection of true moments. How many will there be? I take small narrative bites, chew thoroughly, swallow and repeat. How do you see these four stories in relation to one another? Tell us what the title—Trajectory—reflects about this collection? Successful people often rewrite their histories to suggest that free will reigns, that their success is a product of their own cleverness and hard work. Less successful people often see the deck fate stacked against them.