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.
January 30, 2011 |
While Mortals Sleep Unpublished Short Fiction Kurt Vonnegut, foreword by Dave Eggers Delacorte: 272 pp., $27 It was in the 1950s that Kurt Vonnegut, then in his early 30s, quit his job as a publicity man for the research department of General Electric and committed himself to a freelance career. He soon published a first novel, 'Player Piano' (unsuccessful), and began cranking out short stories, scores of them, for the 'slicks' ? family magazines such as Collier's, Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan, markets that had helped support the careers of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Irwin Shaw, among others, and still, at that time, paid handsomely for fiction.
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.
May 11, 2007 |
Amy Hempel, short story writer, is spending a rainy morning at a Madison Avenue diner. She is 56 years old. Her flowing hair is silvery-white. Her speech is clear, but careful. She sometimes edits herself as she talks or advances her thoughts as if placing one foot slowly before the other. For more than 20 years, she has been creating stories, short stories.
March 20, 2011 |
The Empty Family Stories Colm Tóibín Scribner: 277 pp., $24 Walking into solitude is not so difficult ? even nowadays, with the digital contrails of voicemail and instant messaging. "I live alone now and I work hard," writes a character in Colm Tóibín's newest short-story collection, "The Empty Family. " "And when I am not working I am away. I do not see anyone I have no desire to see. It is easy to screen calls and avoid answering emails, and then they peter out. " This last matter, this slow deletion of personal relationships, is at the core of the nine stories in this collection, as Tóibín projects a slideshow of reclusive figures, many of whom have found that a life well-hid is a life sufficient.
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.
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.