Customer Reviews


35 Reviews
5 star:
 (12)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (6)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but the best in this collection
This classic series first made its appearance around 1915 and has been a staple of the classroom and Americana ever since. While it has launched the careers of some writers, others have fallen by the wayside. Nevertheless it is a remarkable achievement and collection. Granted "the best" is a term that can be bantered out and each person will have those he...
Published on Nov. 5 2004 by Puncie McDermott

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the audio version
Collectors interested in hearing the authors read their own stories might enjoy this production; but if you want to appreciate the stories for their own sake, steer clear of the audio version. The decision to use some of these authors as narrators was a huge mistake. Jill McCorkle's dreary monotone could sedate a grizzly (don't listen to "Theft" while you're...
Published on Feb. 15 2002 by Upright Ape


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the audio version, Feb. 15 2002
By 
Upright Ape (Merrimack, NH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Best American Short Stories of the Century (Audio CD)
Collectors interested in hearing the authors read their own stories might enjoy this production; but if you want to appreciate the stories for their own sake, steer clear of the audio version. The decision to use some of these authors as narrators was a huge mistake. Jill McCorkle's dreary monotone could sedate a grizzly (don't listen to "Theft" while you're driving). James Alan McPherson is essentially unintelligible. He does a poor impersonation of Demosthenes having a bad pebble day. If you really want to hear these stories read by someone, give yourself a break: buy the book, and read it aloud. You'll do a far better job than this crew.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars No Wolfe? Updike can't get over his inferiorities..., Nov. 21 1999
By 
Saharat "bre" (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
nor the superiority of the milleniums best journalist/novelists. Tom Wolfe, be glad you're not lumped in with these. Where's the Katherine Anne Porter--her best, "Jilting of Granny Weatherall."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but the best in this collection, Nov. 5 2004
This classic series first made its appearance around 1915 and has been a staple of the classroom and Americana ever since. While it has launched the careers of some writers, others have fallen by the wayside. Nevertheless it is a remarkable achievement and collection. Granted "the best" is a term that can be bantered out and each person will have those he like and others he skips over, but all-in-all this collection is very even-handed and well paced. The writing for the most part is rich and warm, and we can only hope that things like the short story and what Americans are truly remembered for, and not some others. The only other collection that I've read that even comes close to this was McCrae's "The Children's Corner" which, though not many different authors, nevertheless manages to put across a wide range of human emotions and writing styles. Whatever you do, first of all buy this book edited by one of the best writers we have--John Updike.
Also recommended: THE CHILDREN'S CORNER by Jackson McCrae
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doesn�t (can�t) live up to the title, but very worthwhile, Aug. 29 2003
By 
Solely due to the way this book was assembled, it cannot live up to its title. This book is not an assemblage of the best short stories from the entire body of 20th century American literature; rather, this book is an anthology of the best stories that happened to have appeared in the annual Best American Short Story volumes. So, to make it into this book, a story would have had to be recognized when it was written as being one of the best of that year, as chosen by a single editor/reader.
I enjoy reading short stories, and every year I purchase both the O. Henry Prize Stories and the Best American Short Stories. When I first did this, I was amazed at how little overlap there is between 20 stories chosen for each anthology (usually, there are only one or two stories in common, and typically the story chosen by O. Henry as the best of the year does not appear in the other anthology). So once again we have evidence that beauty (and art and subjective opinions such as "best") are in the eye of the beholder.
So, can John Updike's selections be debated? Undoubtedly; every reader of this anthology will be able to cite stories and authors that they believe should have been included (as for me, I was most disappointed by the absence of Ray Bradbury). But is this anthology worth reading? Absolutely!
Reading this anthology cover-to-cover is like traveling through time, and provides an enriching perspective on the history of the 20th century in America. From the hardscrabble existence of immigrants and farmers, to the Depression, to the problems of racism, to the war, to the ennui that exists in a time of relative plenty, these stories do cover the broad American experience of the past century. Furthermore (aside from Ray Bradbury), many of our best authors are represented, so this book is a good way to get introduced to authors that one has heard about but not read before.
It's surprising to me that short story anthologies aren't more popular, given our busy society. A well written short story entertains, conveys a message, teaches something about the human condition, and can be enjoyed in one sitting, such as a short plane or train ride. I would highly recommend this anthology as a way for short story novices to get started, and then one can graduate to the annual O. Henry and Best American Short Story anthologies.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A Review, July 3 2002
By 
Stacey Cochran (Raleigh, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
I used to go to the library and read the old annual Best American Short Story collections. There was something almost religious about picking up a copy from 1927 and reading a story by a then unknown kid named Ernest Hemingway in that old type-face, or the Faulkner stories in just about every annual volume during the 1930s. The bios of these writers at the back of the old copies when they were unknown writers was so innocent and naive. Modern critical theory has influenced my perception of so many of these writers, and that is shame.
The stories collected in this Best American Short Stories of the Century are taken from the the annual volumes. There are stories representing each decade from the teens to the 90s. There are classics, and there are surprises. My favorite is Ann Beattie's "Janus." It is subtle and masterfully written.
I've owned this book for two years, and I read it from time-to-time. Some stories I've read four or five times. Some I haven't read at all. And it's a book that it's okay to do that with, I think. The Fitzgerald story "Crazy Sunday" was something of a nice surprise, and indeed, that kind of surprise seems at the heart of what Updike and Kenison were aiming to realize. How to make a Best of the 20th Century anotholgy exciting, you know? Considering they could only take stories from the annual Best of American Short Story anothologies, they did that well, I think. Martha Gellhorn's "Miami--New York" was insightful. The John Cheever, Raymond Carver, and Joyce Carol Oates stories are great classics. I enjoyed Donald Barthelme's "A City of Churches" and Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" -- stories ranging from the humorous, to the heartrending.
If I could make one suggestion regarding Best American Short Stories, it would be this: I think it would be interesting if every few years they allowed a so-called popular writer to read as guest editor. These stories end up representing a kind of intellectual clique. And it would be interesting to see what a guest editor like John Grisham or Stephen King would add to the mix of our nation's collective stories.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Some of These Stories Really are Great, April 19 2002
By 
Elizabeth Hendry (New Jersey USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Let's face it, superlatives sell. Who is going to buy a short story collection entitled: "A Collection of Well Written Stories from a Bunch of Different People, from 1915 to 1999". Not catchy and you can't dance to it. Another fact--there is no way that you could put together a collection of the greatest American short stories from the 20th century and have everyone agree on it. That being said, this is a very good collection of stories. I will admit, some bored me, some I really didn't like, but there is a lot in there and on the whole I think it's a worthwhile read. Some of the stories blew me away--particularly Alice Elliot Dark's In the Gloaming. Some, I couldn't even finish. As a whole, I am very glad I read them. This collection introduced me to a number of writers I had never read before, some I haven't read in a while, and some I read anytime anything new comes out. Of the stories I enjoyed (and that's most of them), I am appeciative of Updike's including them. This collection, while it has a few weak links, is strong and makes for enjoyable reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Any serious reader of short fiction needs this collection, Jan. 29 2001
By 
J. Van Belle "GVB" (Tulalip, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am not sure what to make of the criticism that this book doesn't really include the "best" stories because Salinger and O'Connor aren't represented. Anyone familiar with the yearly series recognizes that the point is not to create a top ten or top one hundred list, but to allow the important writers of our time to select stories that are commendable.
That this collection contains some hidden gems and more obscure titles is the charm. Do we need another anthology of stories from O'Connor, Salinger, and the like? No. We need collections like this that break from the canon and introduce new readers to the truly talented writers of the past 90 years.
If you want a subjective top 100 list, find a website with the list you like. If you want to read a diverse collection of some of the most interesting, important stories in America, buy this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars great stories indeed, however..., Jan. 17 2001
By 
"uncle_entropy" (pittsburgh, pa USA) - See all my reviews
title a book "the best XXX of the century," and that's what you should give your readers. the best. not the most underappreciated, the hidden gems, the other stories by the best writers, or whatever. i wanted a compendium of what i was promised by the very title: the best american short stories of the century. i didn't get it. this book is very solid in what it presents, but what it presents is not what it claims.
i won't continue to dredge up the jacksons and salingers that aren't present. look below for many comprehensive lists of exactly what aren't here. to be fair to prospective buyers, this selection would be better called, "american short fiction of the 20th century: a decade by decade look at some noteworthy pieces."
when the editor even goes so far as to express the fact that he preferred to avoid the hackneyed stories, you should know you're not going to be getting what the title promises. sadly, unless you pick it up in a bookstore, you can't see that caveat till after it arrives in your mailbox.
ah, well. a lesson learned. never again shall i purchase an updike-edited anthology.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars "Of The Century" creates a problem, Nov. 27 2000
I respect and totally understand that this is the editors' choices of the best stories in America from 1915-2000. Notice that there is no Salinger, a writer Updike did not appreciate. There is also very litte meta-fiction. For this, many reviewers dislike the book.
However, I commend Updike for presenting a collection of stories that not everyone already knows. People wanted to see "The Lottery." Why? Everyone knows it. I wanted to see Salinger's "For Esme-With Love and Squalor" or "A Perfect Day for Bananafish." But why? Everyone knows those stories already.
Granted, I'm generalizing a bit, but I think Updike and Kenison did a great job of finding stories that may not be known yet needed to be read. It was probably a terrific headache to have to say "No" to many excellent stories. I don't blame Updike and Kenison for that. This is not the definitive anthology and reviewers need to quit treating it like it is. This is a taste of our country, and with that in mind, it does its job, with or without our favorite stories.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars This Book Had to be Done ... Or Not, Sept. 17 2000
By 
Craig Riecke (Ithaca, NY USA) - See all my reviews
An alien picking up this book to learn about 1900's American short ficition would draw the following conclusions: (1) Everyone's dying. (2) There is no humor. Some country!
I did like 5-6 stories a lot, making it percentage-wise little better than picking 55 stories out of a hat. My own list overlapped Updike's in one place ("The Things They Carried").
The real problem: the exercise was misguided. Too many excellent short stories did not appear in Best American Short Stories of 19xx, which was the criteria for making the first cut here. (Best Essays of the Century doesn't suffer from this problem.) At the very least, they should've been picked by a committee - committees are horriby bad at designing airports, but really good at picking Best lists. This book is a worst case scenario.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Best American Short Stories of the Century
The Best American Short Stories of the Century by John Updike (Audio CD - Sept. 11 2000)
Used & New from: CDN$ 34.31
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews