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


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B42 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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

The task had to be daunting, selecting the 55 stories that grace this volume. The title alone is daunting: the best? But the riches containedÄincluding a foreword by Kenison and a deft introduction from UpdikeÄprove the title accurate. Consider the resources mined: 2000 stories anthologized in annual best-of volumes since 1915. Although certain notable story writers, John O'Hara for one, never made it into the series and others who did have been crowded out of this volume, the stories excavated and displayed herein are gems. Often these are the gems one would expectÄsuch as John Cheever's balance of the magical and the sinister in "The Country Husband," about an inappropriate desire that floods a man after a plane crash. What story captures better than "Greenleaf" Flannery O'Connor's affrontery before Protestantism and her vision of unearned grace? And would readers expect anything less of Dorothy Parker than "Here We Are," a scathing yet poignant depiction of a newly married couple bickering like old retirees? Indeed, the volume includes such signature stories as Joyce Carol Oates's "Where Are You Going, where Have You Been?," Cynthia Ozick's "The Shawl," Raymond Carver's "Where I'm Calling From" and Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried." But some stories here by the well-known are not necessarily the best known. Fitzgerald is represented not by "Babylon Revisited" but by "Crazy Sunday," about the perilous life of a screenwriter employed at a director's whim. The transient world captured in Eudora Welty's "The Hitch-Hikers" seems far removed from the homier gardens, parlors, and post offices familiar from her other fiction. And readers can be grateful that Updike chose not "The Magic Barrel" but Bernard Malamud's "The German Refugee," a tale that ends with a dark if O. Henry-like reversal. In Kenison's words, these stories are "an invaluable record of our century." The book opens with Benjamin Rosenblatt's "Zelig," a tale of an immigrant who longs against reason to return to Russia. Immigration is a recurring theme, picked up again in Alexander Godin's sadly ironic "My Dead Brother Comes to America," And that we are nearly all descendants of immigrants is Äas apparent in Willa Cather's "Double Birthday" or Saul Bellow's "A Silver Dish" as in Gish Jen's bitterly funny "Birthmates," about a Chinese-American as trapped by his self-definition as by the racism of others. In his introduction, Updike writes, "The American experience... has been brutal and hard." The stories bear this out. In Elizabeth Bishop's "The Farmer's Children," two boys freeze protecting their father's equipment, while in Grace Stone Coates's lovely "Wild Plums," a young girl is forbidden to gather fruit with a family her mother deems socially inferior. Life on this continent may be brutal, but this extraordinary collection offers up dazzling writing that salves the wounds, as well as stories full of the pleasures of life. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Best of the best: 55 stories from the "Best American Short Story" series. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

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