Saturday, April 6, 2013

Double the stories, double the fun

Books: The Best American Short Stories, 2006 and 2005
Authors: Various
Editors: Ann Patchett and Geraldine Brooks
Series editors: Katrina Kenison and Heidi Pitlor
Published: 2006 and 2011 (Houghton Mifflin)

Of course these are good books. They do the collective annual work of about $200 worth of lit mag subscriptions each year. Of course these aren't definitive collections of the best American short stories in any given year, but they're a damn good try.

Reading two volumes back-to-back did shine a rather glaring truth on one lit fic cliche, though - some of these stories just don't have endings. It's not even a question of whether there was a plot leading up to the last few pages or not, some of them just chopped off and left my brain early because there wasn't any last hook to hang my memory on.

Nevertheless! No stories in here were actually bad. Here are a list of ones that stuck: 

The Sleep: a town hibernates with unexpected success and consequences.
Housewifely Arts: a single mother travels to a wildlife preserve to hear a parent speak in her mother's voice one last time.
Phantoms: a town experiences phantom beings as part of their everyday life and start to wonder if they're normal or chosen.
Escape from Spiderhead: sci fi where prisoners are controlled by injected chemicals and thrown into moral quandaries to see how they react.
The Dungeon Master: a sociopathic teenager becomes a DD runner to get his revenge.
The Dog: a family goads a wife who can't cook into cooking a huge dinner to stop them from killing a dog.
Grandmother's Nose: a realistic take on Little Red Riding Hood
Mr. Nobody at All: an infamous artist gets eulogized by everyone he invited to his funeral, plus a few he told to stay the hell away.


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