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The New Granta Book of the American Short…
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The New Granta Book of the American Short Story

by Richard Ford (Editor)

Other authors: Sherman Alexie (Contributor), Donald Barthelme (Contributor), Richard Bausch (Contributor), Ann Beattie (Contributor), T. C. Boyle (Contributor)38 more, Robert Olen Butler (Contributor), Kevin Canty (Contributor), Raymond Carver (Contributor), John Cheever (Contributor), Junot Diaz (Contributor), Andre Dubus (Contributor), Stuart Dybek (Contributor), Deborah Eisenberg (Contributor), Nathan Englander (Contributor), Louise Erdrich (Contributor), Tom Franklin (Contributor), Mary Gaitskill (Contributor), Barry Hannah (Contributor), Adam Haslett (Contributor), Denis Johnson (Contributor), Edward P. Jones (Contributor), Thom Jones (Contributor), Matthew Klam (Contributor), Jhumpa Lahiri (Contributor), Andrea Lee (Contributor), Dennis McFarland (Contributor), Lorrie Moore (Contributor), Bharati Mukherjee (Contributor), Flannery O'Connor (Contributor), Joyce Carol Oates (Contributor), Julie Orringer (Contributor), ZZ Packer (Contributor), Grace Paley (Contributor), Annie Proulx (Contributor), George Saunders (Contributor), Elizabeth Spencer (Contributor), Robert Stone (Contributor), John Updike (Contributor), Eudora Welty (Contributor), Joy Williams (Contributor), Tobias Wolff (Contributor), Steve Yarbrough (Contributor), Richard Yates (Contributor)

Series: Granta (anthology, 2007)

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Any collection of short stories by different authors is going to have its highs and lows. There are plenty of lows in this, but about one-third of the stories resonated with me. Among my favorites were:

- John Cheever's "Reunion," which managed, in probably only 1,000 words, to give us everything we needed to know about the history between a father and son -- and did so with much humor.
- Tom Franklin's "Grit," which managed to toe the catwalk between darkness and roller coaster throughout its ending -- which, as every good story should be, was shocking yet inevitable.
- George Saunders' rollicking "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline," which reminded me of how a ghost story written in the spirit of Chuck Palahniuk might sound like. This story was unlike any other in the collection and, combined with Richard Ford's spectacular introduction (which lays out a sound philosophy for short story writing), is worth the price of at least the paperback version of this collection.

Other notable stories for me included:
- Bharati Mukherjee's "The Management of Grief" (though that may be because I remember the Pan Am Lockerbie disaster so well);
- Stuart Dybek's "The Palatski Man" (what can I say ... I'm a Chicagoan);
- Tobias Wolff doing what he does best -- writing about childhood -- in "Firelight;"
- Ann Beattie's "The Rabbit Hole as Likely Explanation," where the character comes to grips with her mother's age-induced loss of reality;
- Kevin Canty's edgy "Blue Boy," a coming-of-age tale with a sense of danger that kept me turning pages;
- Jhumpa Lahiri's beautiful "A Temporary Matter," capturing a couple's communication issues in a unique way;
- Nathan Englander's "The Tumblers," showing a fresh take on one sliver of the Holocaust;
- Adam Haslett's quiet, desperate "Devotion," recalling the best moments of the early scenes from Atonement;
- ZZ Packer's "The Ant of the Self," which takes a lot longer than Cheever to build a similar father-son relationship but keeps itself moving briskly; and
- Julie Orringer's "Stars of Motown Shining Bright," which takes the overused trick of adding a gun to the story and really makes it work in its favor.

I've been taking short story writing classes recently and so have been immersing myself in this art, and taking on this book right now -- with all its disappointments and its high points -- has really helped put me in the right frame of mind for the work I'm doing. ( )
  marck | Apr 12, 2008 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ford, RichardEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexie, ShermanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barthelme, DonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bausch, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beattie, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyle, T. C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Butler, Robert OlenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canty, KevinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carver, RaymondContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cheever, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diaz, JunotContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dubus, AndreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dybek, StuartContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eisenberg, DeborahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Englander, NathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Erdrich, LouiseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franklin, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaitskill, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hannah, BarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haslett, AdamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DenisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, Edward P.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, ThomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klam, MatthewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lahiri, JhumpaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lee, AndreaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McFarland, DennisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, LorrieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mukherjee, BharatiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, FlanneryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Orringer, JulieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Packer, ZZContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Paley, GraceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Proulx, AnnieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saunders, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spencer, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stone, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Welty, EudoraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolff, TobiasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yarbrough, SteveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yates, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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This collection features stories from over 40 writers including Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Deborah Eisenberg, Nell Freudenberger, Matthew Klam, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Z.Z. Packer.

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