This post is part of a year-long series about short stories. Read about my “Year of the Short Story” HERE.
Best Short Stories of 2008 with guest editor Salmon Rushdie and Heidi Pitlor
Most of the collections I’ve read this year have been works by single authors. This one collects some of the best writing published in magazines or other resources during the course of the year. The book is part of a larger annual series. Each year features a renowned author as the guest editor to help choose the stories. These have included Stephen King, E.L. Doctorow, Margaret Atwood, John Updike, John Gardner, Garrison Keillor, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, and many others.
What the reader gets from a collection like this is a wider range of writing. The focus is on the quality of the writing rather than genre or style. This volume fell into my hands when I was visiting the Green Valley Book Fair near Harrisonburg, VA. This is a book lovers dream, several barns filled with books of all descriptions. Because they are remainders, the prices are very low. The selection is amazing. Fiction and non-fiction, books on almost any subject imaginable. I walked out with four or five books and a shirt (you’ll find all kinds of bits and pieces there!) for less than $25. This book cost less than $5.
You can find these same kinds of bargains at used books stores and even by watching for sale bins or shelves at your favorite bookstore.
Inside I found a great collection of stories that I might never have discovered, authors that were almost all new to me. All of them are well written.
hey showed me different ways of approaching storytelling. As writers, we should never pass up the opportunity of studying the work of other writers. As readers, we have the chance to discover new worlds, new stories and new ways of telling those stories. It’s comfortable to stay with what you “always read”, but you never know when you might find something new to “always read”.
Here’s the list of stories and authors: (I’ve starred my favorites)
Admiral by T.C. Boyle – A story of genetics, politics and a twisted kind of love.
*The Year of Silence by Kevin Brockmeier – Strange moments of complete silence transform the world.
Galatea by Karen Brown – A young woman marries a man she doesn’t truly know.
Man and Wife by Katie Chase – A story of an arranged marriage with a twist.
Virgins by Danielle Evans – Two teenage girls on a journey towards a goal they may or may not want.
Closely Held by Allegra Goodman – A young programmer struggles with the changes that come with success.
*May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Holmes – Family, sex and death.
From the Desk of Daniel Varsky by Nicole Kraus – Through her involvement with a young man, she is drawn into life, death, poetry, and Chile.
The King of Sentences by Jonathan Lethen – Fans can strange. So can the object of their devotion.
The Worst You Ever Feel by Rebecca Makkai –
The Wizard of West Orange by Steven Millhausen – What kinds of experiments did Edison abandon?
Nawabdin Electrician by Daniyal Mueenuddin – Through remarkable ingenuity, a poor Pakistani man with many daughters makes a living to support them all.
Child’s Play by Alice Munro – Two women face a childhood secret.
Buying Lenin by Miroslav Penkov – The end of the Communist era in Bulgaria brings new tension to a man and his grandfather.
*Vampires in the Lemon Grow by Karen Russell – What if being a vampire isn’t what you thought it was?
Puppy by George Saunders – Every story has two sides.
Quality of Life by Christine Sneed – Freedom to choose isn’t always freedom.
Missionaries by Bradford Tice – A young missionary faces a personal test.
Straightaway by Mark Wisniewski – What do you do when you agree to dump a barrel with an unknown content? You don’t look, you run.
Bible by Tobias Wolfe – A high school teacher is kidnapped by the father of one of her students.
Picking favorite stories has been tough all year. This collection is no different. I liked every single story in the collection. These were the ones that my mind keeps coming back to again and again. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
I will continue to read and review short story collections as part of my
“What I’m Reading” series in 2019. If you have a short story author or collection you really like, please leave me the title/name in the comments.