Cover image for The best American short stories of the century
Title:
The best American short stories of the century
Author:
Updike, John.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xxiv, 775 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Titles selected by John Updike from the 1915 through 1998 editions of The best American short stories series.
Language:
English
Contents:
Zelig / Little selves / A jury of her peers / Other woman / Golden honeymoon / Blood-burning moon / Killers / Double birthday / Wild plums / Theft / That evening sun go down / Here we are / Crazy Sunday / My dead brother comes to America / Resurrection of a life / Christmas gift / Bright and morning star / Hitch-hikers / Peach stone / "That in Aleppo once..." / Interior castle / Miami-New York / Second tree from the corner / Farmer's children / Death of a favorite / Resemblance between a violin case and a coffin / Country husband / Greenleaf / Ledge / Defender of the faith / Criers and kibitzers, kibitzers and criers / German refugee / Where are you going, where have you been? / Rotifer / Gold Coast / Key / A city of churches / How to win / Roses, rhododendron / Verona : a young woman speaks / A silver dish / Gesturing / Shawl / Where I'm calling from / Janus / Way we live now / Things they carried / Meneseteung / You're ugly, too / I want to live ! / In the gloaming / Proper library / Birthmates / Soon / Half-skinned steer
ISBN:
9780395843680
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Since the series' inception in 1915, the annual volumes of The Best American Short Stories have launched literary careers, showcased the most compelling stories of each year, and confirmed for all time the significance of the short story in our national literature. Now THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF THE CENTURY brings together the best of the best - fifty-five extraordinary stories that represent a century's worth of unsurpassed accomplishments in this quintessentially American literarygenre. Here are the stories that have endured the test of time: masterworks by such writers as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Saroyan, Flannery O'Connor, John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Cynthia Ozick, and scores of others. These are the writers who have shaped and defined the landscape of the American short story, who have unflinchingly explored all aspects of the human condition, and whose works will continue to speak to us as we enter the next century. Their artistry is represented splendidly in these pages. THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES series has also always been known for making literary discoveries, and discovery proved to be an essential part of selecting the stories for this volume too. Collections from years past yielded a rich harvest of surprises, stories that may have been forgotten but still retain their relevance and luster. The result is a volume that not only gathers some ofthe most significant stories of our century between two covers but resurrects a handful of lost literary gems as well. Of all the great writers whose work has appeared in the series, only John Updike's contributions have spanned five consecutive decades, from his first appearance, in 1959, to his most recent, in 1998. Updike worked with coeditor Katrina Kenison to choose stories from each decade that meet his own high standards of literary quality.


Author Notes

John Updike is the author of numerous books He has won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1998 he received the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Katrina Kenison is the series editor of The Best American Short Stories.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"Best" is, of course, a subjective labeling, but this anthology certainly brims with significance. The estimable Best American Short Stories series has been going on nearly as long the century, and from each year of its existence series editor Kenison and guest editor Updike have culled a monumental assemblage of superior short story writing. And what would a century's end gathering be without Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty, John Cheever, Flannery O'Connor, and Raymond Carver? But wonderful writers too much forgotten by today's reader will ignite interest in their work, or so it is hoped; those writers include William Saroyan, Jean Stafford, J. F. Powers, and Martha Gellhorn. An anthology all fiction collections should be blessed with. --Brad Hooper


Publisher's Weekly Review

Updike narrowed down his collection of short stories from 55 to 21 to present this rich, warm voicing of some of the best writing of the 20th century. Whenever possible, it seems, Updike has enlisted living writers to read their own works. It's a pleasure to hear Updike soothe his way through his own "Gesturing" and Gish Jen whir her "Birthmates." Others contributor/readers include Thom Jones, Cynthia Ozick, Lorrie Moore and Tim O'Brien. For writers such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Penn Warren and Raymond Carver, Updike has cleverly paired appropriate readers. He lends his own voice to Sherwood Anderson's "The Other Woman," George Plimpton deftly breathes F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Crazy Sunday" and Jill McCorckle's sharp twang lends a wry rhythm to Eudora Welty's "The Hitchhikers." Each story, sometimes snug with a second, fits neatly on one side of a cassette. Brief interludes of music, when the readers introduce themselves, the stories and the places of original publication, thankfully fade away, leaving the listener with crisp, fresh recordings of these excellent tales. Based on the Houghton Mifflin paperback. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

The only author to be included in Best American Short Stories in every decade since the 1950s, John Updike was chosen to select those stories best representing the American century since the series inception in 1915. Being limited to those originally chosen for the annual volumes, Updike admits that past editors may have overlooked some gems. But he makes a valiant effort to include all the masters of the form, from Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald, through Cheever, OConnor, and Malamud, to Carver and Munro. Though one might question whether an individual choice is really one of the best of the century, as a whole the collection presents a microcosm of 20th-century American life: the immigrant experience (many of the early stories), the Roaring Twenties (Fitzgerald), World War II (Roth) and the Holocaust (Malamud and Ozick), 1950s suburban values (Cheever) and their rejection by 1960s youth culture (Oates), Vietnam (OBrien), and AIDS (Sontag and Dark). Many of the stories are famous and easily found elsewhere, but there are some rare surprises like a semi-autobiographical piece by Tennessee Williams. Recommended for most public libraries, and for those academic libraries that no longer hold all the annual volumes. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/98.]Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Foreword
IntroductionJohn Updike Zelig and Benjamin Rosenblatt
Little SelvesMary Lerner
A Jury of Her PeersSusan Glaspell
The Other WomanSherwood Anderson
The Golden HoneymoonRing Lardner
Blood-Burning MoonJean Toomer
The KillersErnest Hemingway
Double BirthdayWilla Cather and Wild Plums and Grace Stone
Coates TheftKatherine Anne Porter
That Evening Sun Go DownWilliam Faulkner
Here We AreDorothy Parker
Crazy SundayF. Scott Fitzgerald
My Dead Brother Comes to AmericaAlexander Godin
Resurrection of a LifeWilliam Saroyan
Christmas GiftRobert Penn
Warren Bright and Morning StarRichard Wright
The Hitch-HikersEudora Welty
The Peach StonePaul Horgan
"That in Aleppo Once ..."Vladimir Nabokov
The Interior CastleJean Stafford
Miami - New YorkMartha Gellhorn
The Second Tree from the CornerE. B. White
The Farmer's ChildrenElizabeth Bishop
Death of a FavoriteJ. F. Powers
The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a CoffinTennessee Williams
The Country HusbandJohn Cheever
GreenleafFlannery O'Connor
The LedgeLawrence Sargent
Hall Defender of the FaithPhilip Roth
Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and CriersStanley Elkin
The German RefugeeBernard Malamud
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?Joyce Carol Oates
The RotiferMary Ladd Gavell
Gold CoastJames Alan McPherson
The KeyIsaac Bashevis Singer
A City of ChurchesDonald Barthelme
How to WinRosellen Brown Roses
RhododendronAlice Adams
Verona: A Young Woman SpeaksHarold Brodkey
A Silver DishSaul Bellow
GesturingJohn Updike
The ShawlCynthia Ozick
Where I'm CallingRaymond Carver Janus and Ann Beattie
The Way We Live NowSusan Sontag
The Things They CarriedTim O'Brien
MeneseteungAlice Munro
You're Ugly, TooLorrie Moore
I Want to Live!Thom Jones
In the GloamingAlice Elliott Dark
Proper LibraryCarolyn Ferrell
BirthmatesGish Jen
SoonPam Durban
The Half-Skinned SteerAnnie Proulx
Biographical
Notes