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The Best American Short Stories 2012

by Tom Perrotta (Editor), Heidi Pitlor (Series Editor)

Other authors: Carol Anshaw (Contributor), Taylor Antrim (Contributor), Nathan Englander (Contributor), Mary Gaitskill (Contributor), Roxane Gay (Contributor)15 more, Jennifer Haigh (Contributor), Mike Meginnis (Contributor), Steven Millhauser (Contributor), Alice Munro (Contributor), Lawrence Osborne (Contributor), Julie Otsuka (Contributor), Edith Pearlman (Contributor), Angela Pneuman (Contributor), Eric Puchner (Contributor), George Saunders (Contributor), Taiye Selasi (Contributor), Sharon Solwitz (Contributor), Kate Walbert (Contributor), Jess Walter (Contributor), Adam Wilson (Contributor)

Series: Best American (2012), The Best American Short Stories (2012)

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363771,424 (3.65)12
Presents twenty of the best works of short fiction of the past year from a variety of acclaimed sources.
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
If going by this collection alone, the best American short stories would seem to require the following elements:
-At least one character who is a college professor.
-A depiction of sex with someone you no longer have sex with.
-A party
(I suppose if you've got a story about that time you had sex with your ex at the faculty mixer, you've hit the trifecta....)

All other stories would be mere shadows of this One True Platonic Form. After all, what's more real in life than *your* life? The lives of creative writing teachers would seem to be the most grounded, most authentic subject to depict. What's more real than the image in the mirror?

A honorable mention should go to the story about that time (kids remarkably similar to) your kids were Amazing. This story is perhaps second only that amusing picture of your cat at the apotheosis of modern bourgeois storytelling.

Snark aside, there are good stories in this collection. The ones I appreciated the most were the least likely to conform to the formula: Meginnis's "Navigators", Millhauser's "Miracle Polish", Otsuka's "Diem Perdidi", Saunders's "Tenth of December", and Walter's "Anything Helps". Skip this collection and read their stuff instead.



( )
  ralphpalm | Nov 11, 2019 |
I give it two stars got the two decent stories in it. ( )
  R3dH00d | Aug 26, 2014 |
In her forward, series editor Heidi Pitlor reports that 2011 was a strong year for short stories. It must have been, because this collection is an excellent one. Below are mini-reviews for some stories that stood out for me, but before I get to those, I'd like to mention the introduction by this year's guest editor Tom Perrotta. It's one of the most engaging and accessible pieces of writing about reading and about the short story that I've seen in a while.

Carol Anshaw's "The Last Speaker of the Language" is lush, rich, and voluptuous; funny, intelligent, and tragic -- there's more human life dwelling within the fourteen pages of this story than ought to be possible.

Nathan Englander's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" is the title story in his 2012 collection of stories. The story and the collection have received a lot of critical acclaim, and it's easy to see why. It's deft, insightful, and ultimately devastatingly dark.

"The Other Place" by Mary Gaitskill is another dark piece in something of a Joyce Carol Oates vein. I found it unpleasantly grim, but there's no denying its artistry and strength.

"North Country" by Roxane Gay was one of my favorites out of this strong collection. A plot outline would sound like a Harlequin romance, but this story is sparkling with intelligence and humor, while also being laid over with a tone of melancholy. A melancholy story that had me laughing with delight at frequent intervals.

Alice Munro is considered one of the world's premier short story writers, but personally I've found most of the stories of hers that I've read to be dry and unengaging ("Floating Bridge" being a wonderful exception). This volume's "Axis" unfortunately continues that trend.

Edith Pearlman's "Honeydew" returned me to the realm of the delightful. This story of characters at a school for girls is sharp and nimble on its feet and wickedly funny without ever being joke-y. I haven't read much Pearlman before, but now I'll have to.

Angela Pneuman's "Occupational Hazard" was the only story that I actively disliked. I found its microscopic, follicle-by-pore observation of unlikable characters about as enjoyable as fingernails on a blackboard.

"M&M World" by Kate Walbert restored my faith again. Charmingly plotless and frenzied in pace, this stream-of-consciousness piece had me wanting to stand up and cheer at the end. This is what people are talking about when they call literature an art form.

Jess Walter's "Anything Helps" was wonderfully crafted and lavishly, gloriously, depressing -- in the best way possible.

All in all, a rich and delightful collection. ( )
  KarlBunker | Mar 30, 2014 |
Didn't like even 1 story in the collection. ( )
  tjblue | Nov 28, 2013 |
Just finished the 2012 edition of "The Best American Short Stories of 2012" (or to those who are hip "BASS 12", just so you know, from one who is not hip.) I read BASS every year. I love short stories and there is always quite a variety depending on who the editor is that year. One can sample a bunch of different authors both known and unknown. What is cool is that the authors provide a brief bio and a few sentences about their included stories. Those are almost as interesting as the stories themselves.

Of course in a buffet like this book there are going to be some stories I like and others I don't. I finished all but one of the stories. The best ones to me was a little sci fi "Beautiful Monsters" by Eric Puchner about genetically raised children who never grow up who encounter a full grown man for the first time (they smell awful!) and "What is Important is Feeling" by Adam Wilson about an almost famous Indie Film hanger on and his frustrated career.

Anyway if you like short stories check this out. ( )
  YogiABB | Jan 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Perrotta, TomEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pitlor, HeidiSeries Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Anshaw, CarolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Antrim, TaylorContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Englander, NathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaitskill, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gay, RoxaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haigh, JenniferContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Meginnis, MikeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Millhauser, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Munro, AliceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Osborne, LawrenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Otsuka, JulieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pearlman, EdithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pneuman, AngelaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Puchner, EricContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saunders, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Selasi, TaiyeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Solwitz, SharonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walbert, KateContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walter, JessContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, AdamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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Presents twenty of the best works of short fiction of the past year from a variety of acclaimed sources.

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