- Publisher: Mariner Books (2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780618713486
- ISBN-13: 978-0618713486
- ASIN: 0618713484
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 658 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,074,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Best American Short Stories 2007 Paperback – 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
King admits in his introduction that he prefers all-out emotionally assaultive stories to those that might appeal to his critical nose. Yet King's selections are right at home among those of recent BASS editors Lorrie Moore, Michael Chabon and Walter Mosley: John Barth's darkly comic take on aging and mortality; a child's unforgiving view of her alcoholic parent from T.C. Boyle; an exploration of the grief of a crystal meth addict by William Gay (a writer King notes is a relatively obscure American talent); Lauren Groff's piece about a polio survivor learning to swim during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic (based loosely on real-life Olympian Ethelda Bleibtrey); Roy Kesey's imagining of an airport terminal as microcosm of global politics; and Karen Russell's halfway house for the human children of werewolves (their condition skips a generation). Stories drawing on horror and on Maine add a personal King touch to this year's cull of 20, taken from among the 4,000 that series editor Pitlor read last year in periodicals. The book reflects the variety of substance and style and the consistent quality that readers have come to expect from the series, now in its 30th year. (Oct.)
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If you like short stories go for it, this is a good little collection.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
2007 guest editor Stephen King made the final selection of the twenty stories included in this volume. The guest editor in the Best American series often selects works that are within that editor's style or genre. Hence you might expect this volume to contain twenty horror stories, but instead, Stephen King does an admirable job of selecting a wide variety of different stories. As his introduction demonstrates, King has a true love of reading and short stories, and the stories selected roam far and wide from King's home turf of the horror genre. The two aspects of Stephen King's style which I felt crept into this volume are a preference for long works, and (in some of the stories, such as Richard Russo's "Horseman"), a lack of polish in the wording, perhaps indicating that the stories were written quickly or without a strong editor analyzing every word.
My favorite story in this volume, and the one that I feel combines all the elements of a great short story, namely a gripping plot with a twist at the end, interesting characters, some deep lessons about the human condition, and precise, well-chosen wording, was T.C. Boyle's "Balto". This story alone is worth the price of the book; think of the others as a bonus that you get for free. John Barth, who has been writing smartly and satirically about society and interpersonal relationships for nearly half a century, shows that he still has all his powers in "Toga Party", which not only has a great plot twist at the end, but an absolutely perfect last sentence.
Other stories that I enjoyed included: Roy Kesey's "Wait", which, although it quickly jumps into the realm of the fantastic, illustrates a very interesting microcosm for international relationships; and two stories that obviously had a lot of research put into them, to recreate eras of history: Lauren Groff's "L. DeBard and Aliette: A Love Story", and Jim Shepard's "Sans Farine". The dud of the book, I felt, is Kate Walbert's "Do Something", a forgettable anti-war tirade. The book also contains the obligatory Alice Munro selection; she obviously appeals to some (or many) people, but not so much to me, although "Dimension" is indeed one of the more interesting Munro stories that I've read over the years of reading these short story anthologies.
So, while not the best volume ever in this series, I do recommend The 2007 Best American Short Stories.
Two of the stories (Russo's "Balto" and Kyle's "Allegiance") are about children caught in the tension between warring parents. Perhaps you could include Munro's "Dimension" in that category; it's the grisly ultimate in using the kids as a weapon in a marital dispute. There was very little humor, except perhaps for satirical overtones in Auchinloss's "Pa's Darling," Barth's "Toga Party," Epstein's "My Brother Eli"and Karen Russel's brilliantly original "St.Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, " and the oysterism of "The Bris."