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The Best American Short Stories 1997: Selected from U.s. and Canadian Magazines [Hardcover]

Annie Proulx , John Edgar Wideman , Katrina Kenison
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

November 1997 Best American Short Stories
In the only short fiction anthology that annually offers the finest works chosen by a distinguished bestselling guest editor, this year's editor, E. Annie Proulx, has selected dazzling stories by Tobias Wolff, Donald Hall, Cynthia Ozick, Robert Stone, Junot Diaz, and T. Coraghessan Boyle, as well as an array of stunning new talent.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Library Journal

Proving that the term best is subjective, the editors of Prize Stories and Best American Short Stories (BASS) have selected entirely different lists to represent the highest-quality American short stories appearing last year. Only Carolyn Cooke has stories on both lists. Guest editor Proulx has added a new twist to BASS by grouping the stories into four broad categories. Rather than showing us the similarity of the selections, it demonstrates the complexity present in today's literary fiction and how the human concerns that manifest themselves in stories appear unique, owing to each author's voice and perspective. With new editor Dark, Prize Stories has expanded the number of magazines from which it selects, including for the first time Canadian authors and publications. Selected alongside familiar names like Alice Munro and John Barth are exciting new voices like Arthur Bradford and Thomas Glave. Both BASS and Prize Stories belong in most fiction collections. In the Signet title, "best" refers to best sellers, as Signet celebrates its 50th anniversary by printing new stories by blockbuster authors such as Stephen King, Ed McBain, and Erica Jong. As popular fiction is a different animal from literary fiction; only two or three of the included stories would ever be found in a literary journal. Instead, we find diverting stories that easily fit into genres like mystery, suspense, or romance. For popular collections.?Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Over 80 years old, this admirable series might consider a new rule: No stories included that will appear in book form before the "best" volume does. The latest entry features quite a few already reviewed by Kirkus as parts of story collections (Lydia Davis, Junot D¡az, Tobias Wolff, Tim Gautreaux, etc.) and even novels (by Cynthia Ozick and Clyde Edgerton). That caveat aside, Proulx selects stories from almost all major venues, which makes series editor Kenison's ramblings about on-line mags, none represented, a bit silly. Combative and feisty, Proulx clearly prefers more conventional narrative forms, though the subjects here are free-ranging. Standouts include Jonathan Franzen's ``Chez Lambert,'' a deft piece about an elderly couple and their daily lives in retirement. Equally textured and subtle is Jeffrey Eugenides's ``Air Mail,'' a chronicle of its narrator's post-collegiate Wanderjahr, which takes him to the East and an apparent experience of spiritual ecstasy. Heavily determined by place are Pam Durban's southern family tale ``Soon,'' about the legacies of tough-minded women; Donald Hall's anti-nostalgic ``From Willow Temple,'' spanning the century in Michigan and revealing the secret passions of some unforgiving people; and Alison Hagy's ``Search Bay,'' set on Michigan's Upper Peninsula and neatly reflecting the harsh life of its central figure, a retired seaman who lives alone. Richard Bausch defines the humor here with his hilarious ``Nobody in Hollywood,'' about two wayward brothers and the difficult women they encounter. Karen E. Bender's ``Eternal Love'' provides a touching counterpoint with its tale of two retarded adults getting married. Michelle Cliff and T.C. Boyle, both writers with heavy hands, consider the ironies of race and colonialism (Cliff) and the pro-life movement (Boyle). All in all, a strong sampling of what the major magazines (the New Yorker, Paris Review, GQ, etc.) are publishing these days. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Nourishment for the Hungry Mind June 6 2000
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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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 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
4.0 out of 5 stars 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.
4.0 out of 5 stars SOME SUPER STORIES Feb. 28 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
3.0 out of 5 stars 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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