These collections are always hit and miss for me. I love reading them because you know that you will find one or two amazing stories, maybe a new voice or two, and run into some surprises. Sometimes you see the "big names" like Saunders and Munro and think, "Oh, they'll be great," and they are. Other years, they disappoint. This year, it was the lesser known authors that blew me away.
I can't stand reading stories about white, upper-class, educated authors or entitled elitists. Please, no more. And enough of the "What We Talk About When We Talk About..." So overdone.
Carol Anshaw, "The Last Speaker of the Language" was dark, funny and overall, a story that stays with you.
Mary Gaitskill, "The Other Place" is just an amazing story about the darkness that lurks in us all. Loved it, I was not disappointed.
Roxane Gay, "North Country" is possibly my favorite story in here. I first read this story in Hobart, and I'm a big fan of her work, but re-reading it here I was just floored by the raw emotion and honesty.
Mike Meginnins, "Navigators," from the same issue of Hobart, really surprised me, wow. The gaming storyline was fascinating, but what really broke through was the father/son relationship. So good.
Steven Millhauser, "Magic Polish" is a great bit of literary sf/fantasy, contemporary Bradbury, sweet, and sad. Surprising.
Eric Puchner, "Beautiful Monsters" is such a touching bit of near future fable and myth, loved, again, caught me off-guard. Touching.