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The Best Short Stories of 1931 and the…

The Best Short Stories of 1931 and the Yearbook of the American Short… (1931)

by Edward J. O'Brien (Editor)

Other authors: Louis Adamic (Contributor), Solon R. Barber (Contributor), Alvah C. Bessie (Contributor), Kay Boyle (Contributor), Louis Bromfield (Contributor)21 more, Whit Burnett (Contributor), Erskine Caldwell (Contributor), Morley Callaghan (Contributor), Walter D. Edmonds (Contributor), William Faulkner (Contributor), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Contributor), Martha Foley (Contributor), Guy Gilpatric (Contributor), Emmett Gowen (Contributor), Josephine Herbst (Contributor), Paul Horgan (Contributor), William March (Contributor), Don Marquis (Contributor), George Milburn (Contributor), Dorothy Parker (Contributor), Allen Read (Contributor), James Stevens (Contributor), William Hazlett Upson (Contributor), Leo L. Ward (Contributor), Anne Elizabeth Wilson (Contributor), Lowry Charles Wimberly (Contributor)

Series: The Best American Short Stories (1931)

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» See also 8 mentions

This is a fascinating collection of short stories, in that it includes several iconic short stories that had appeared for the first time in 1931, and were therefore being anthologized for the first time.

The most famous stories included are "That Evening Sun Go Down" by Faulkner, "Babylon Revisited" by Fitzgerald, "Here We Are" by Dorothy Parker, "Rest Cure" by Kay Boyle and "Only We Are Barren" by Alvah Bessie. Other well known authors include Louis Bromfield, Erskine Caldwell, William March and Don Marquis. (I have to admit that I skipped "Babylon Revisited." I just couldn't face it one more time.)

There were also many excellent stories by writers I'd never heard of. "Fiddlers of Moon Mountain" by Emmett Gowen and "White Man's Town" by Lowry Charles Wimberly are two that stand out.

Also quite interesting was editor Edward O'Brien's introduction, which included his summary of the current (in 1931) state of the short story form:

"John Chamberlain, in the course of a stimulating and acute article in The New Republic entitled "The Short Story Muddles On," . . . . pointed out with considerable justice that many of the writers whose work I printed last year appeared to have evolved a behavioristic system because they had been influenced not quite logically by Ernest Hemingway. . . .

Behaviorism as a substitute for a philosophy of life is certainly rife in America. It is in the air which every American short story writer is compelled to breathe. It does not enter, however, into Ernest Hemingway's philosophy of life, and the writers who have been most influenced by him have largely nullified any beneficent influence which Mr. Hemingway might have had upon their work by imposing behaviorism upon his vision of life. . . . Despite behaviorism, I am nevertheless compelled to affirm once more that the period of literary integration has begun. This integration is neither specially philosophical nor specially psychological, and it certainly has nothing to do one way or the other with ethics. The integration of which I am speaking is characterized by a general sense of wholeness. A story tends to start clean, to discard irrelevancies, to see lucidly, to allow no falsities, to rub in no morals, to discover and reveal life The old pretentiousness is gone. The false sentiment is gone. The "hard-boiled" mask is gone. . . .

The short story is just beginning to justify itself as a separate form. The old conception of an artificial plot imposed too much strain on the form, and turned the short story into something very much like a potted novel. In the new short story, plot is a servant and not a master, as a machine should be. Needless to say, in the transition towards the new short story, we have had to put up with a great deal of sprawling and formlessness . . . . "
  rocketjk | Oct 3, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
O'Brien, Edward J.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adamic, LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barber, Solon R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bessie, Alvah C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyle, KayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bromfield, LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burnett, WhitContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caldwell, ErskineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Callaghan, MorleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edmonds, Walter D.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Faulkner, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fitzgerald, F. ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foley, MarthaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gilpatric, GuyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gowen, EmmettContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herbst, JosephineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Horgan, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
March, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marquis, DonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Milburn, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parker, DorothyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Read, AllenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stevens, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Upson, William HazlettContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ward, Leo L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Anne ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wimberly, Lowry CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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