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by John Updike,Katrina Kenison

Since the series' inception in 1915, the annual volumes of The Best American Short Stories have launched literary careers, showcased the most compelling stories of each year, and confirmed for all time the significance of the short story in our national literature. Now THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF THE CENTURY brings together the best of the best - fifty-five extraordinary stories that represent a century's worth of unsurpassed accomplishments in this quintessentially American literary genre. Here are the stories that have endured the test of time: masterworks by such writers as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Saroyan, Flannery O'Connor, John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Cynthia Ozick, and scores of others. These are the writers who have shaped and defined the landscape of the American short story, who have unflinchingly explored all aspects of the human condition, and whose works will continue to speak to us as we enter the next century. Their artistry is represented splendidly in these pages. THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES series has also always been known for making literary discoveries, and discovery proved to be an essential part of selecting the stories for this volume too. Collections from years past yielded a rich harvest of surprises, stories that may have been forgotten but still retain their relevance and luster. The result is a volume that not only gathers some of the most significant stories of our century between two covers but resurrects a handful of lost literary gems as well. Of all the great writers whose work has appeared in the series, only John Updike's contributions have spanned five consecutive decades, from his first appearance, in 1959. Updike worked with coeditor Katrina Kenison to choose stories from each decade that meet his own high standards of literary quality.
Download The Best American Short Stories of the Century (The Best American Series ®) epub
ISBN: 0395843677
ISBN13: 978-0395843673
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Short Stories & Anthologies
Author: John Updike,Katrina Kenison
Language: English
Publisher: Mariner Books; Expanded ed. edition (April 20, 2000)
Pages: 864 pages
ePUB size: 1226 kb
FB2 size: 1634 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 373
Other Formats: rtf mobi lrf mbr

The short story is arguably the American contribution to literary form, developed in the work of Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Crane and others in the 19th century to flourish during the 20th century in the work of Bellow, Carver, Cather, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Malamud, Munro, O’Connor, Proulx, Roth, Updike, Welty and others. An anthology of the best American stories published during the year was first published in 1915 and continues today. In the earlier years the dedicated editor, Edward J. O’Brien, endeavored to read every short story published in America and select only the finest, and this custom has been continued over the years. Now, one of the finest short story writers of the 20th century, John Updike, with the assistance of Katrina Kenison, has read all the stories in the 85 volumes of Best American Short Stories and selected the cream of the crop over the century for this jewel of American short fiction.
I have read all the stories as they are printed, in chronological order, and thoroughly enjoyed them all, but there are a few which I found particularly striking: 1929 Willa Catha Double Birthday and Grace Stone Wild Plums;1944 Vladimir Nabokov That in Aleppo Once…; 1951 Tennessee Williams The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffine; 1955 John Cheever The Country Husband; 1957 Flannery O’Connor Greenleaf; 1960 Lawrence Sargent Hall The Ledge; and Phillip Roth Defender of the Faith/; 1979 Saul Bellow A Silver Dish; 1993 Thom Jones I Want to Live!; 1998 Annie Proulx The Half-Skinned Steer.
I have read this series for decades, so I have read many of these stories. Still, it's nice to have them selected by one of the finest writers of American literature, all in one volume.
Solely due to the way this book was assembled, it cannot live up to its title. This book is not an assemblage of the best short stories from the entire body of 20th century American literature; rather, this book is an anthology of the best stories that happened to have appeared in the annual Best American Short Story volumes. So, to make it into this book, a story would have had to be recognized when it was written as being one of the best of that year, as chosen by a single editor/reader.
I enjoy reading short stories, and every year I purchase both the O. Henry Prize Stories and the Best American Short Stories. When I first did this, I was amazed at how little overlap there is between 20 stories chosen for each anthology (usually, there are only one or two stories in common, and typically the story chosen by O. Henry as the best of the year does not appear in the other anthology). So once again we have evidence that beauty (and art and subjective opinions such as "best") are in the eye of the beholder.
So, can John Updike's selections be debated? Undoubtedly; every reader of this anthology will be able to cite stories and authors that they believe should have been included (as for me, I was most disappointed by the absence of Ray Bradbury). But is this anthology worth reading? Absolutely!
Reading this anthology cover-to-cover is like traveling through time, and provides an enriching perspective on the history of the 20th century in America. From the hardscrabble existence of immigrants and farmers, to the Depression, to the problems of racism, to the war, to the ennui that exists in a time of relative plenty, these stories do cover the broad American experience of the past century. Furthermore (aside from Ray Bradbury), many of our best authors are represented, so this book is a good way to get introduced to authors that one has heard about but not read before.
It's surprising to me that short story anthologies aren't more popular, given our busy society. A well written short story entertains, conveys a message, teaches something about the human condition, and can be enjoyed in one sitting, such as a short plane or train ride. I would highly recommend this anthology as a way for short story novices to get started, and then one can graduate to the annual O. Henry and Best American Short Story anthologies.
This Best American Short Stories Collection from the last Century, edited by John Updike, is everything it promises to be. Everybody has different taste in short stories and some will wonder; why was this included? Why wasn't this included? But overall, I can't imagine doing a better job on such a momentous task. All of the greats are in there, some better known, some lesser known, but you can spend a formidable amount of your time over several years reading and studying this collection, This was a great, good deed of John Updike and those who helped him to put together such a collection.I give this book the highest possible recommendation!
To reduce the boredom of exercise I decided to listen to audio books. Short stories work well as I'm inclined to keep moving until the end.

This audio CD collection is very good and really well done. Many of the stories are read by their authors. The sound is crisp and clean, and (with rare exception) the diction fluid and natural. The stories themselves are varied and high-quality.

One thing to note, though, is that the audio version does not contain all the stories from the print version. That may seem obvious, but if you are expecting to hear one or anther of the stories from the book, know that the CD set only includes 22 stories.
Really looking forward to diving into these stories. Only had time for a couple so far. Great book.
A solid collection of American short stories, most of whom were previously unknown to me. Well worth the price of admission.
Updike's short story choices are excellent. Though the book is thick and so not greatly portable, it contains so many gems. The master of short story writing is a fine editor for such a collection. Excellent for adult classes.