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Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents…
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Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story

by Lorin Stein, Lorin Stein (Editor), Sadie Stein (Editor)

Other authors: Daniel Alarcón (Introduction), Donald Barthelme (Contributor), Ann Beattie (Introduction), David Bezmozgis (Introduction), Jorge Luis Borges (Contributor)35 more, Jane Bowles (Contributor), Ethan Canin (Contributor), Raymond Carver (Contributor), Evan S. Connell (Contributor), Bernard Cooper (Contributor), Guy Davenport (Contributor), Lydia Davis (Introduction), Lydia Davis (Contributor), Dave Eggers (Introduction), Jeffrey Eugenides (Introduction), Mary Gaitskill (Introduction), Thomas Glynn (Contributor), Aleksandar Hemon (Introduction), Amy Hempel (Introduction), Mary-Beth Hughes (Contributor), Denis Johnson (Contributor), Jonathan Lethem (Introduction), Sam Lipsyte (Introduction), Ben Marcus (Introduction), David Means (Introduction), Leonard Michaels (Contributor), Steven Milhauser (Contributor), Lorrie Moore (Introduction), Craig Nova (Contributor), Daniel Orozco (Introduction), Mary Robison (Contributor), Norman Rush (Contributor), Norman Rush (Introduction), James Salter (Contributor), Mona Simpson (Introduction), Ali Smith (Introduction), Wells Tower (Introduction), Dallas Wiebe (Contributor), Joy Williams (Contributor), Joy Williams (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1799107,774 (3.33)1
"Twenty contemporary authors introduce twenty sterling examples of the short story from the pages of The Paris Review"--Cover p. [4].

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I truly enjoyed the format of this anthology and it exposed me to some writers I had never encountered before such as Jane Bowles and Mary-Beth Hughes, who I believe have some of the strongest stories in this anthology. The introductions are at times helpful to an interpretation or at least expectation of the stories to follow but they are wildly variant. Dave Eggers outlines a couple key points about the strengths of James Salter's story "Bangkok" that serves as a benchmark, at least to me, at what the other authors should have contributed in order to present the "object lesson" of each story clearly for the reader. Overall if you're looking for an anthology to dip into this is a good one, or you know just read The Paris Review. ( )
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
Some short stories in this collection are really boring, pastime Americana junk, while others are mind-boggling and great; the ones by Ethan Canin, Bernard Cooper, Thomas Glynn and Denis Johnson are wonderful. ( )
  pivic | Mar 20, 2020 |
This book is similar in format to the 2000 anthology "You've Got to Read This" (highly recommended), and also to the New Yorker Fiction Podcast (highly, wildly, hysterically, frantically recommended). Twenty authors were asked to select a short story (by some other author) and to write a brief introductory comment for it. The stories were chosen from the archives of the noted literary fiction journal "The Paris Review."

Being literary fiction, these stories don't have pat endings or pat plots or pat characters. They don't follow those writing rules you may have read about in "The Idiot's Guide to Writing Best-Selling Fiction for Dummies." They are sometimes mysterious, often quirky, at times experimental, and occasionally packed to the gills with WTF. I found a few of them too opaquely obscure to be enjoyable, and I expect some other readers will also have that experience (though perhaps tripping over different stories than I did). But other stories I found delightfully funny, wickedly clever, tear-jerkingly sad, or simply exquisite examples of the art of short fiction.

The joy in an anthology like this is in discovery. Finding a story that's an amazing read; that makes you want to look further into the author's work, thus perhaps leading to many more amazing reads. For me, the discoveries included James Salter's compressed and brilliant "Bangkok" (evidently something of a classic in lit-fic short story circles, so I'm probably blowing my credibility by admitting that I hadn't read it before), Mary-Beth Hughes' wrenchingly painful "Pelican Song," and Mary Robison's just-plain-wonderful "Likely Lake."

And so on. If you have any affinity for literary fiction short stories, I'm sure you will have your own discoveries as you read through this book. So quit wasting time with this review and buy the book and start reading. Wonderful discoveries and amazing reads await you.

========
Appendix:
I have a gripe with how this book is promoted. On its front cover, its back cover, and in the product description here on the Amazon page, lists of authors are shown. But there's no indication as to whether the book has a story by any given author, or just one of the introductory comments. Thus, for example, despite the implied promise on the front cover you'll find no stories in here by Ann Beattie, Amy Hempel, Jonathan Lethem, or several other notable authors listed.

But that was just a stupid and dishonest marketing decision (Is there any other kind of marketing decision?), and it doesn't affect the quality of the book's contents.

You can use the Amazon page's "Look Inside" feature to see the book's table of contents, but as a quick alternative, here's a list of contributors, divided up into story-contributors and comment-contributors:

Stories by: Donald Barthelme, Jorge Luis Borges, Jane Bowles, Ethan Canin, Raymond Carver, Evan S. Connell, Bernard Cooper, Guy Davenport, Lydia Davis, Thomas Glynn, Mary-Beth Hughes, Denis Johnson, Leonard Michaels, Steven Millhauser, Craig Nova, Mary Robison, Norman Rush, James Salter, Dallas Wiebe, Joy Williams

Comments by: Daniel Alarcon, Ann Beattie, David Bezmozgis, Lydia Davis, Dave Eggers, Jeffrey Eugenides, Mary Gaitskill, Aleksandar Hemon, Amy Hempel, Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte, Ben Marcus, David Means, Lorrie Moore, Daniel Orozco, Norman Rush, Mona Simpson, Ali Smith, Wells Tower, Joy Williams ( )
1 vote KarlBunker | Apr 7, 2014 |
These are some very good short stories, but, at times, the commentary on each story by a current author of note, wasn't that insightful or useful. But, what the hell, if you have such superb short stories to fall back, you can cut these commenting authors some slack. ( )
  jphamilton | Nov 8, 2013 |
I'm not much of a short story fan, but I wanted to force myself. I am glad I did. There is a wide range of excellent, compelling stories here from the realistic to the fantastic to the absurd. The introductions are of some value, causing the reader to focus on certain elements of each story, but the stories themselves make this a great, almost indispensable, anthology of contemporary short fiction. Of course, if you have already read these stories, then you probably don't need this anthology. ( )
  malrubius | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lorin Steinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stein, LorinEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Stein, SadieEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alarcón, DanielIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barthelme, DonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beattie, AnnIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bezmozgis, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borges, Jorge LuisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowles, JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canin, EthanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carver, RaymondContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Connell, Evan S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooper, BernardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davenport, GuyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eggers, DaveIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eugenides, JeffreyIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaitskill, MaryIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glynn, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hemon, AleksandarIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hempel, AmyIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hughes, Mary-BethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DenisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lipsyte, SamIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marcus, BenIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Means, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Michaels, LeonardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Milhauser, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, LorrieIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nova, CraigContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Orozco, DanielIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Robison, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rush, NormanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rush, NormanIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Salter, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simpson, MonaIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, AliIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tower, WellsIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wiebe, DallasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, JoyIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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