Ok, I was eagerly anticipating this year’s Best American Short Stories. I had once met this year’s editor, Alice Sebold, in one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. In a past life, I was once an editor of a small-small-small press literary magazine (did I say how small it was?) and constantly trying to solicit writers for their stories. She was utterly nice yet for some reason I never solicited her and was utterly rude; instead I was trying to court her lesser-known writer husband, who ironically was trying to brush me off. But tangent aside, my point is that I hardly envy Sebold, who’s had to read through tons of horrid stories. (I can relate having once had to go through the slush pile; though I think it’s a consolation that BASS editors are picking from what should be the best stories, having already been weeded out from the rest…though that of course is debatable). I already have a hard time as it is reading the journals I keep up with (New Yorker, Harper’s Tin House, Paris Review, Zoetrope, Atlantic Monthly [well, the fiction issue]), Granta). I would go insane having to sort through any more. I actually think going through too many lit mags/journals can play with your mind; you might start losing your sense of what’s good in a story.
Okay, I haven’t read through the entire BASS yet, though I’ve already read most of the stories in there (it’s not yet available on Bookswim, which by the way is my new love–I was Lizzie and Bookswim was my Fitzwilliam Darcy–more on that later). Alarcon, Bynum, Yiyun Li yes, even if lukewarm. But McCorkle?
In any case, I’m looking forward to reading the other stories!
A few of my picks from last year that didn’t make it:
- Josh Ferris’s “Dinner Party,” The New Yorker, August 11, 2008
- Alice Munro’s “Deep-Holes,” The New Yorker, June 30, 2008
- Brad Tice’s “The Art of Human Surveillance,” The American Scholar, Winter 2009
- Aleksandar Hemon, “The Noble Truths of Suffering,” The New Yorker, September 22, 2009
What are your picks for the Best American Short Stories from last year?
And any early picks for next year’s? I would say:
- Joseph O’Neill’s “The World of Cheese,” Harper’s, February 2009
- Ken Calhoun, “Nightblooming,” The Paris Review, Summer 2009