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The Best American Short Stories 1997: Selected from U.s. and Canadian Magazines Hardcover – Nov 1 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 381 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (T) (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395798663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395798669
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,227,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Now that "Story" Magazine has tragically folded (I forgive you, Lois), the annual "Best of" series is just about my only source left for finding a large number of really high-quality short stories in one place. "Atlantic," "The New Yorker," "Playboy," and all the other standard fiction venues are nice occasionally, but they each publish two or three stories per month at the most.

Just as I used to do with "Story," I try with these "Best of" compilations to ration the stories out, one per day, to make them last. A sure sign that the collection is truly wonderful is that I fail at this rationing, and devour it in much larger chunks. Perhaps the only reason I never finish them in a single day is that the really fine stories will make me think, or feel, so deeply that I cannot bear to continue immediately.

This collection, the 1997 edition, is one of those; perhaps the 1994 was better, and I'm already enjoying the 1998 thoroughly. But every fan of the modern American short story should have a copy of the 1997.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
BASS 97 offers a state of the art on the current ss scene. Dec 12 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Annie Proulx has assembled a collection of current American short stories from the few slicks that publish them, and the many little magazines that offer the true home of realistic short fiction nowadays. Like John Edgar Wideman (who edited last year's BASS) she continues with cultural pluralism: stories set in China (Jin), Southeast Asia (Eugenides), the Carribean (Cliff and Stone), and Europe (Davis and Michaels) appear here. A mixing of social levels and cultural influences is "in" these days in the short story. I think it has invigorated the form. Now for the bad news: the current trend in the realistic short story is finally clear to me. I am calling it the "dysfunctional story"; in it, horrible people do terrible things to each other (or animals) for an extended period of time, and then the story ends. Woe to the reader who "identifies" with such characters. I have developed a thicker skin while reading such a story, because it's dangerous to get too close to its emotions. Sometimes irony effectively modulates the work, as it does in Michelle Cliff's "Transactions" (TriQuarterly), a shrewd parable of cultural invasion set on an island with a slave history; or Leonard Michaels's "A Girl with a Monkey" (Partisan Review), where an aging American tries to buy the affections of a German prostitute as he tries to escape a collapsed life back home. Fine traditional narratives that let us "like" the characters include Junot Diaz's "Fiesta, 1980" (Story), a beautiful rendering of a misunderstood youth in a New York barrio; and Michael Byers's "Shipmates Down Under" (American Short Fiction), my favorite in this book, which handles the complex problems of a "typical" American family with Updikean aplomb. You'll notice I didn't mention any slick magazine stories as notable this year. Based on this collection, the "littles" had better material. My students also liked work by Carolyn Cooke, Karen E. Bender, Tim Gautreaux, and Jeffrey Eugenides (although some hated the last one). Overall, the impression I get from these stories is a far reduced faith or interest in humankind. Authors seem to trust style and plot more than people, at times seeming to take enjoyment in showing characters in their worst possible light. This Tarantino-ization of the current short story does not bode well for the form, IMHO (in my humble opinion).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Nourishment for the Hungry Mind June 6 2000
By Jeffrey Anbinder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Now that "Story" Magazine has tragically folded (I forgive you, Lois), the annual "Best of" series is just about my only source left for finding a large number of really high-quality short stories in one place. "Atlantic," "The New Yorker," "Playboy," and all the other standard fiction venues are nice occasionally, but they each publish two or three stories per month at the most.

Just as I used to do with "Story," I try with these "Best of" compilations to ration the stories out, one per day, to make them last. A sure sign that the collection is truly wonderful is that I fail at this rationing, and devour it in much larger chunks. Perhaps the only reason I never finish them in a single day is that the really fine stories will make me think, or feel, so deeply that I cannot bear to continue immediately.

This collection, the 1997 edition, is one of those; perhaps the 1994 was better, and I'm already enjoying the 1998 thoroughly. But every fan of the modern American short story should have a copy of the 1997.
SOME SUPER STORIES March 1 2007
By T. Bellows - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One man's viewpoint:

I marked five stories as five-star works. So far, I'm happy with this.

And...the story by Jeffrey Eugenides is a wonder to me. An all-time favorite. It goes into the spiritual sound current, the naturalness of death-into-the-next-level. Beautiful ending. And wonderful descriptions. Tops.

If you read Twitchell's Eckankar, Key to Secret Worlds, you'll get into the JE story very nicely! ***Happy travels!

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Blind picks would have been fairer Jan. 14 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Proulx openly admits in her intro that she didn't choose the stories blindly, and the bias shows (compared to other Best American anthologies). It's possible to still choose the best stories while knowing the names of the authors, but that kind of objectivity is extremely difficult, for anyone-- literary master or not, and the fact that she chose to not select blindly makes me suspicious: makes me wonder just how many excellent "amateur" stories had been discarded in favor of the blander stories of bigger names.

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