Cover image for The best American short stories, 2003
The best American short stories, 2003
Mosley, Walter.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2003]

Physical Description:
xv, 360 pages ; 21 cm.
Rationing / Mary Yukari Waters -- Mines / Susan Straight -- Coins / Mona Simpson -- Heaven Lake / Jess Row -- Kavita through glass / Emily Ishem Raboteau -- Ghost knife / Sharon Pomerantz -- Marie-Ange's ginen / Marilene Phipps -- Moriya / Dean Paschal -- Every tongue shall confess / ZZ Packer -- Future emergencies / Nicole Krauss -- Devotion / Adam Haslett -- Why the sky turns red when the sun goes down / Ryan Harty -- Shamengwa / Louise Erdrich -- The shell collector / Anthony Doerr -- Baby Wilson / E.L. Doctorow -- Night talkers / Edwidge Danticat -- Johnny Hamburger / Rand Richards Cooper -- The bees / Dan Chaon -- Space / Kevin Brockmeier -- Compassion / Dorothy Allison.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS648.S5 B4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS648.S5 B4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS648.S5 B4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS648.S5 B4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



These twenty short stories boldly and insightfully explore the extremes of human emotions. In her story "Night Talkers," Edwidge Danticat reunites a young man and the elderly aunt who raised him in Haiti. Anthony Doerr brings readers a naturalist who discovers the surprising healing powers of a deadly cone snail. Louise Erdrich writes of an Ojibwa fiddler whose music brings him deep and mysterious joy. Here are diverse and intriguing characters -- a kidnapper, an immigrant nanny, an amputee blues musician -- who are as surprised as the reader is at what brings them happiness.
In his introduction, Walter Mosley explores the definition of a good short story, and writes, "The writers represented in this collection have told stories that suggest much larger ideas. I found myself presented with the challenge of simple human love contrasted against structures as large as religion and death. The desire to be loved or to be seen, represented on a canvas so broad that it would take years to explain all the roots that bring us to the resolution." Each of these stories bravely evokes worlds brimming with desire and loss, humanity and possibility.

Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected -- and most popular -- of its kind.
Lending a fresh perspective to a perennial favorite, Walter Mosley has chosen unforgettable short stories by both renowned writers and exciting newcomers. The Best American Short Stories 2003 features poignant tales that explore the nuances of family life and love, birth and death. Here are stories that will, as Mosley writes in his introduction, "live with the reader long after the words have been translated into ideas and dreams. That's because a good short story crosses the borders of our nations and our prejudices and our beliefs."

Dorothy Allison Edwidge Danticat E. L. Doctorow Louise Erdrich Adam Haslett ZZ Packer Mona Simpson Mary Yukari Waters

Author Notes

Walter Mosley is the award-winning author of the story collection Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned and its sequel, Walkin' the Dog, as well as five Easy Rawlins mysteries. His novel RJ's Dream was a finalist for the NAACP Award in Fiction.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

You don't expect to be deeply moved by the foreword to an illustrious annual collection of short stories, yet there it is, Katrina Kenison's eye-misting account of her fourth-grade son going through that secret rite of passage, being brought to tears by a book. That fiction possesses such power remains an astonishment, no matter how many novels or short stories a person reads, a boon that guest editor Walter Mosley celebrates in his beautifully metaphorical introduction, and then the reader is wowed all over again in 20 different ways by the superb stories that follow. Mosley has selected dazzling, unsettling new work by such brilliantly imaginative, compassionate, and artistic storytellers as E. L. Doctorow, Edwidge Danticat, Susan Straight, Mona Simpson, Louise Erdrich, ZZ Packer, Dan Chaon, and Dorothy Allison, whose stories touch on every phase of life and illuminate a rich spectrum of disturbing predicaments, intense feelings, surprising resolutions, and enduring mysteries. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2003 Booklist



Introduction: Americans DreamingWhenever anyone asks my opinion about the difference between novels and short stories, I tell them that there is no distinction between the genres. They are essentially the same thing, I always reply. How can you say that? the fiction lover asks. Stories are small gems, perfectly cut to expose every facet of an idea, which is in turn illuminated by ten thousand tiny shafts of light. But I hold my ground, answering the metaphor with a simile. A novel, I say, is like a mountain - superior, vast, and immense. Its apex is in the clouds and it appears to us as a higher being - a divinity. Mountains loom and challenge; they contain myriad life forms and cannot be seen by anyone attempting the climb. Mountains can be understood only by years of negotiating their trails and sheer faces. They contain a wide variety of atmospheres and are complex and immortal. You cannot approach a mountain unless you are completely prepared for the challenge. In much the same way, you cant begin to read (or write) a novel without attempting to embrace a life much larger than the range of any singular human experience. Thinking in this way, I understand the mountain and the novel to be impossible in everyday human terms. Both emerge from a distance that can be approached only by faith. And when you get there, all you find is yourself. The beauty or terror you experience is your understanding of how far youve come, your being stretched further than is humanly possible. The fiction lover agrees. She says, Yes, of course. The novel is a large thing. The novel stands against the backdrop of human existence just as mountains dominate the landscape. But stories are simple things, small aspects of human foibles and quirks. A story can be held in a glance or a half- remembered dream. Its a good argument, and I wouldnt refute it. But I will say that if novels are mountains, then stories are far-flung islands that one comes upon in the limitless horizon of the sea. Not big islands like Hawaii, but small, craggy atolls inhabited by eclectic and nomadic life forms that found their way there in spite of tremendous odds. One of these small islets can be fully explored in a few hours. Theres a grotto, a sandy beach, a new species of wolf spider, and maybe the remnants of an ancient culture that came here and moved on or, possibly, just died out. These geologic comparisons would seem to support the fiction readers claim that novels and short stories are different categories, distant cousins in the linguistic universe. But where did those wolf spiders come from? And who were the people who came here and died? And why, when I walk around this footprint of land, do I feel that something new arises with each day? I eat fish that live in the caves below the waves. I see dark shadows down there. I dream of the firmament that lies below the ocean, the mountain that holds up that small span of land. I cannot climb the mou Excerpted from The Best American Short Stories 2003 All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Walter MosleyMary Yukari WatersSusan StraightMona SimpsonJess RowEmily Ishem RaboteauSharon PomerantzMarilene PhippsDean PaschalZZ PackerNicole KraussAdam HaslettRyan HartyLouise ErdrichAnthony DoerrE. L. DoctorowEdwidge DanticatRand Richards CooperDan ChaonKevin BrockmeierDorothy Allison
Forewordp. ix
Introduction: Americans Dreamingp. xiii
Rationing (from Missouri Review)p. 1
Mines (from Zoetrope)p. 16
Coins (from Harper's Magazine)p. 28
Heaven Lake (from The Harvard Review)p. 38
Kavita Through Glass (from Tin House)p. 51
Ghost Knife (from Ploughshares)p. 62
Marie-Ange's Ginen (from Callaloo)p. 80
Moriya (from Ontario Review)p. 91
Every Tongue Shall Confess (from Ploughshares)p. 113
Future Emergencies (from Esquire)p. 128
Devotion (from The Yale Review)p. 140
Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down (from Tin House)p. 155
Shamengwa (from The New Yorker)p. 173
The Shell Collector (from The Chicago Review)p. 189
Baby Wilson (from The New Yorker)p. 214
Night Talkers (from Callaloo)p. 233
Johnny Hamburger (from Esquire)p. 253
The Bees (from McSweeney's)p. 268
Space (from The Georgia Review)p. 286
Compassion (from Tin House)p. 297
Contributors' Notesp. 327
100 Other Distinguished Stories of 2002p. 341
Editorial Addresses of American and Canadian Magazines Publishing Short Storiesp. 345