The Best American Short Stories of the 80s

Shannon Ravenel, Author, Shannon Ravenel, Editor
Shannon Ravenel, Author, Shannon Ravenel, Editor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16 (393p) ISBN 978-0-395-52223-3
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Ravenel picked these 20 pieces from 200 chosen by a decade's worth of guest editors of The Best American Short Stories , of which she is series editor, and rightly offers them as evidence of a renaissance of the short story. While the selection of 20 ``best'' stories of any given decade is a necessarily arbitrary endeavor, this anthology for the most part offers masterpieces, high points from long and influential careers--Raymond Carver, Donald Barthelme, Joyce Carol Oates and Cynthia Ozick--although several authors who earned their reputations during the past decade, such as Bharati Mukherjee, also are featured. The range of styles and subjects is astounding. In Carver's minimalist ``Cathedral,'' a blind guest restores his host's capacity to notice the world around him. An eponymous shawl becomes a source of nourishment, protection, even communication for a mother and daughter in a concentration camp in Ozick's symbolic yet achingly realistic tale. However, the brief prefaces to each selection here are distracting and invasive--best read after the stories they introduce, if at all. (May)
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