Read The Best American Short Stories 1992 by Robert Stone Free Online
Book Title: The Best American Short Stories 1992|
The author of the book: Robert Stone
ISBN 13: 9780395593530
Edition: Houghton Mifflin
Date of issue: November 12th 1992
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 34.66 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.2
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Reviewing an anthology can be tough, especially when its one with as diverse a history as "The American Best Short Stories" series. Each volume really has its own little personality that depends heavily on the guest editor. The 1992 volume has been built by Robert Stone, an author about whom I know absolutely nothing. I read this edition because it was chronologically next in the series as I'm reading them (I started with the 1988 edition), so I had little expectation concerning how this collection would pan out.
The verdict is: meh. I give it 4 stars, because even if this is an average entry in the "Best American" series, it still contains twenty stories that are finely crafted by very talented artists. But just because you stroll through the Louvre, doesn't mean every painting on every wall is going to burn into your memory.
There were a few standout stories, mostly in the second half of the collection.
"Under the Roof", by Kate Wheeler, was probably my favorite piece, recounting an American monk's stay with a Burmese woman in Bangkok. The unusual setting and deft pivoting between various characters' points-of-view kept me off-balance enough make this the stand-out story.
Other notables included:
* "Days of Heaven" by Rick Bass: a sad, almost wish-fulfillment tale about a man hired to maintain an estate deep in the Montana wilderness, who then decides to protect said estate from unworthy potential buyers.
* "The Pugilist At Rest" by Thom Jones: the story of a Vietnam vet who recalls his rocky basic training, tours in Nam, and the after-effects of a traumatic head-injury suffered afterwards in the states.
* "The Way People Run" by Christopher Tilghman: about an out of work investment banker who visits the bleak and broken town in the desert west where his father was born.
* "The Golden Darters" by Elizabeth Winthrop: a daughter's memory of an awkward and futile connection she tried to make with her father.
* and "Firelight" by Tobias Wolff: another memory story, this time about a boy whose poverty stricken mother passes their time by shopping for things they can't possibly afford (you don't have to actually buy anything in order to shop), such as Persian rugs and fashionable clothes. When his mother takes him to look at an expensive apartment, the little boy's illusion of contentment is broken.
The remaining stories pretty much fall into four categories:
The more middle of the road (but still enjoyable) stories
* "Silver Water" by Amy Bloom - a family's struggle with a mentally unstable daughter.
* "Same Place, Same Things" by Tim Gautreaux - a water pump repairman travels through a depression era midwest, encountering a strange and desperate woman on one of his jobs.
* "Carried Away" by Alice Munro - a strange tale about a librarian who seems to fall in love with an enigmatic soldier who writes her a letter from the front in The Great World War.
* "It's Come To This" by Annick Smith - an Annie Proulx-type story about a widow keeping a homestead on the Montana prairie who strikes up a meaningful, yet slightly detached, relationship with trucker bum.
* "The Fare to the Moon" by Reynolds Price - a grizzled middle-aged southern man who heads to the draft office during WWII in order to escape (and perhaps allow to heal) a heap of broken lives he's had a hand in damaging.
* "Forever Overhead" by David Foster Wallace - an odd and intensly introspective account of a boy taking his first dive off of the high diving board at a Tuscon swimming pool. [almost as entertaining was the late Mr. Wallace's author's notes, included at the end of the collection, in which he proclaims that he doesn't even like the story, but is honored to have it included anyway.]
The entertaining, but somehow slight stories:
* "JunHee" by Marshall Klimasewiski - a Korean woman tries to build a relationship and family with an American man, while straining against her father's ire and her dead mother's desire that she not have a half-American child.
* "Emergency" by Denis Johnson - a quick and screechy night in the lives of two peripheral ER workers.
* "Across the Bridge" by Mavis Gallant - a spoiled young woman's social distresses as she breaks her engagement to a bore in favor a man who she mistakenly believes is in love with her.
The Stories I Barely Remember
* "The Last Lovely City" by Alice Adams - about something.
* "A Different Kind of Imperfection" by Thomas Beller - about something else.
* "A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain" by Robert Olen Butler - about something involving the ghost of Ho Chi Minh.
And Stories By Authors From Whom I Expected More
* "Community Life" by Lorrie More - about a snarky woman and her social life (but completely different from all her other stories about snarky women and their social lives).
* "Is Laughter Contagious?" by Joyce Carol Oates - about suburban WASP angst.
* * * * *
In the end, you could do a lot worse than reading any random "Best American" collection, but this isn't one that's necessarily going to stick out in my mind a month from now.
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Read information about the authorROBERT STONE was the author of seven novels: A Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers (winner of the National Book Award), A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. His story collection, Bear and His Daughter, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and his memoir, Prime Green, was published in 2006.
His work was typically characterized by psychological complexity, political concerns, and dark humor.
A lifelong adventurer who in his 20s befriended Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and what he called ‘‘all those crazies’’ of the counterculture, Mr. Stone had a fateful affinity for outsiders, especially those who brought hard times on themselves. Starting with the 1966 novel ‘‘A Hall of Mirrors,’’ Mr. Stone set his stories everywhere from the American South to the Far East. He was a master of making art out of his character’s follies, whether the adulterous teacher in ‘‘Death of the Black-Haired Girl,’’ the fraudulent seafarer in ‘‘Outerbridge Reach,’’ or the besieged journalist in ‘‘Dog Soldiers,’’ winner of the National Book Award in 1975.
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