February 9, 1986 |
"The Best American Short Stories" is one of two annual anthologies that assemble some--and I stress some-- of the best short fiction published in American and Canadian magazines during the preceding year (the other is "Prize Stories/The O. Henry Awards"; a third, "The Editors' Choice: New American Stories, made its debut last year).
March 8, 1991 |
James Laughlin, founder of New Directions press, has not only published adventurous contemporary fiction but found time himself to produce an impressive body of criticism, short fiction and verse. A tribute to a distinguished man of letters, "Random Stories" collects a dozen quietly powerful short stories written early in his career; it also includes an informal and candid autobiographical essay and an affectionate tribute by Octavio Paz.
December 14, 1998 |
"I know when one is dead." The line is King Lear's; the dead one, his youngest daughter Cordelia; the writer, Shakespeare. I have seen many great actors (and even actresses) read that line. And yet the performance I remember best is that of the critic and teacher Richard Sewell in a lecture theater filled with 300 college students. It was the first class of the term. We all knew that Sewell, a gentle man with a bewildered shock of white hair, had just lost his wife over the winter vacation.
May 1, 1988 |
Frederic Raphael went to Cambridge University in the early '50s and never got over it. Three decades, 14 novels, and three volumes of short stories later, Raphael's university days remain, it appears, the dominant shaping influence of his life.
March 11, 2012 |
Hot Pink Adam Levin McSweeney's Books: 211 pp., $22 In the nine years it took Adam Levin to write his 1,030-page novel "The Instructions" (2010), he was also publishing short fiction. Those pieces, plus a few more, are gathered in the trim collection "Hot Pink," proving that even with a tiny word count, Levin can tell a good, funny story. This collection is front loaded: Its best pieces, surreal and sardonic, appear at the book's beginning. First is "Frankenwittgenstein," in which Mike, a teenage boy, tells the story of his father's sudden dismay over anorexia, his effort to invent a doll that might combat it, and how his plunge into obsession affects his family.
December 25, 1992 |
There are two Kit Reeds, the briskly efficient plotter who wrote the taut suspense novel "Gone" under the name of Kit Craig and her alter ego, the pensive author of "Thief of Lives," 15 tales of anguished accommodation to circumstances defying control. One way and another, both the recent thriller and the short stories deal with loss and the various ways we struggle to cope with guilt, despair and the chasms that separate families and friends.
August 7, 1988 |
Australians are celebrating two centuries of European settlement on that far-flung continent. And many of them are talking about how the nation has come of age, freed at last from colonial thinking, blessed now with unlimited prospects. Murray Bail, one of Australia's most original writers, has set out to prove the same for the country's fiction, through a collection of 32 modern short stories representing two dozen writers.
October 31, 1997 |
Longing can be so distasteful. Pining is palatable; neediness, repulsive; desire, a little sticky, but still it is one of the fundamental elements of life. "Desire is a figment swiftly fleeting," writes Rikki Ducornet in the title story of "The Word 'Desire,' " an ephemeral enactment upon the finite stage of the world, where flesh is a flame and a seeming. Is it true then, she thinks, all is fire?
June 2, 1994 |
The bubbles in "Moses Supposes" signal champagne, or someone drowning, or perhaps someone drowning in champagne. Whether it is a divorced couple nuzzling at their broken marriage after a child's trouble brings them together, or a suffering teen-ager neglected by her rich parents, or a man helplessly trying to cope with his aged, destructive parents, the despair is voiced for rueful wit. Ellen Currie, author of "Available Light," wears her rue with a certain sameness.
September 17, 1992 |
This has been the Year of the Wolf for Maxine O'Callaghan. The Mission Viejo author's short story "Wolf Winter" was not only nominated for a Bram Stoker Award by the Horror Writers of America in June (it lost), but it was recently nominated for an Anthony Award. The winner will be announced in October at Bouchercon, an annual convention of mystery professionals and fans to be held this year in Toronto.