For the 100th anniversary of The Best American Short Stories series, a retrospective of stories selected by master of the form Lorrie Moore. The stories, along with one hundred years of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and decade-by-decade analysis, tell the history of American short fiction, showcasing representative moments in the series as well as literary moments in time.
The Best American Short Stories is the longest running and best-selling series of short fiction in the country. For the centennial celebration of this beloved annual series, master of the form Lorrie Moore selects forty stories from the more than two thousand that were published in previous editions. Series editor Heidi Pitlor recounts behind-the-scenes anecdotes and examines, decade by decade, the trends captured over a hundred years. Together, the stories and commentary offer an extraordinary guided tour through a century of literature with what Moore calls “all its wildnesses of character and voice.”
These forty stories represent their eras but also stand the test of time. Here is Ernest Hemingway’s first published story and a classic by William Faulkner, who admitted in his biographical note that he began to write “as an aid to love-making.” Nancy Hale’s story describes far-reaching echoes of the Holocaust; Tillie Olsen’s story expresses the desperation of a single mother; James Baldwin depicts the bonds of brotherhood and music. Here is Raymond Carver’s “minimalism,” a term he disliked, and Grace Paley’s “secular Yiddishkeit.” Here are the varied styles of Donald Barthelme, Charles Baxter, and Jamaica Kincaid. From Junot Díaz to Mary Gaitskill, from ZZ Packer to Sherman Alexie, these writers and stories explore the different things it means to be American.
Moore writes that the process of assembling these stories allowed her to look “thrillingly not just at literary history but at actual history — the cries and chatterings, silences and descriptions of a nation in flux.” 100 Years of The Best American Short Stories is an invaluable testament, a retrospective of our country’s ever-changing but continually compelling literary artistry.
LORRIE MOORE, after many years as a professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is now the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. Moore has received honors for her work, among them the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and a Lannan Foundation fellowship, as well as the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story. Her most recent novel, A Gate at the Stairs, was short-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction and for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and her most recent story collection, Bark, was short-listed for the Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor Award.
HEIDI PITLOR is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007. She is the author of the novels The Birthdays and The Daylight Marriage.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1917 EDNA FERBER-The Gay Old Dog
1921 SHERWOOD ANDERSON-Brothers
1923 ERNEST HEMINGWAY-My Old Man
1925 RING LARDNER-Haircut
1931 F. SCOTT FITZGERALD-Babylon Revisited
1933 KATHERINE ANN PORTER-The Cracked Looking-Glass
1936 WILLIAM FAULKNER-That Will Be Fine
1942 NANCY HALE-These Are As Brothers
1948 EUDORA WELTY-The Whole World Knows
1948 JOHN CHEEVER-The Enormous Radio
1957 TILLIE OLSEN-I Stand Here Ironing
1958 JAMES BALDWIN-Sonny's Blues
1959 PHILIP ROTH-The Conversion of the Jews
1962 FLANNERY O'CONNOR-Everything That Rises Must Converge
1962 JOHN UPDIKE-Pigeon Feathers
1967 RAYMOND CARVER-Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
1969 JOYCE CAROL OATES-By the River
1975 DONALD BARTHELME-The School
1978 STANLEY ELKIN-The Conventional Wisdom
1980 GRACE PALEY-Friends
1982 CHARLES BAXTER-Harmony of the World
1986 MONA SIMPSON-Lawns
1986 RICHARD FORD-Communist
1988 ROBERT STONE-Helping
1989 DAVID WONG LOUIE-Displacement
1991 ALICE MUNRO-Friend of My Youth
1993 MARY GAITSKILL-The Girl on the Plane
1995 JAMAICA KINCAID-Xuela
1996 AKHIL SHARMA-If You Sing Like That For Me
1997 JUNOT DIAZ-Fiesta, 1980
2000 JHUMPA LAHIRI-The Third and Final Continent
2000 ZZ PACKER-Brownies
2004 EDWARD P. JONES-Old Boys, Old Girls
2005 SHERMAN ALEXIE-What You Pawn I Will Redeem
2006 BENJAMIN PERCY-Refresh, Refresh
2006 TOBIAS WOLFF-Awaiting Orders
2012 NATHAN ENGLANDER-What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
2012 JULIE OTSUKA- Diem Perdidi
2013 GEORGE SAUNDERS-The Semplica-Girl Diaries
2014 LAUREN GROFF-At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners
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