First Fiction: An Anthology of the First Published Stories by Famous Writers

Kathy Kiernan, Editor, Michael Moore, Editor, Jane Smiley, Introduction by
Kathy Kiernan, Editor, Michael Moore, Editor, Jane Smiley, Introduction by Little Brown and Company $24.95 (452p) ISBN 978-0-316-49203-4
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
Paperback - 452 pages - 978-0-316-49204-1
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The 41 selections in this volume (43, counting very short stories by John O'Hara and Dashiell Hammett included in the preface) are the first professionally published stories by prominent American, British and Canadian writers. A few, such as Tennessee Williams's bizarre tale of revenge, offer little evidence of future literary brilliance, but most invite thoughtful comparisons with more mature works. Shirley Jackson's ``After You, My Dear Alphonse'' anticipates ``The Lottery'' in its dramatization of ingrained but unexamined cultural assumptions. Chester Himes evokes the deadly monotony of prison life, Kurt Vonnegut explores the dilemma of a scientist who wishes to use his power for peace and David Leavitt examines tensions between a mother and her gay son. Some juvenile pieces by John Cheever, Carson McCullers and John Updike focus on the callowness of youth, while others by Margaret Atwood, Truman Capote and Flannery O'Connor capture the acute loneliness and dislocation of old age. Brief but intelligent headnotes provide information about the genesis of several stories (some reprinted here for the first time) and occasionally correct misconceptions about publication history. (July)
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