THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2003

Walter Mosley, Editor, Walter Mosley, Read by
Walter Mosley, Editor, Walter Mosley, Read by , read by Mosley, Jess Row, Oliver Wyman et al. Houghton Mifflin Audio $30 (0p) ISBN 978-0-618-19752-1
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-618-19733-0
Hardcover - 360 pages - 978-0-618-19732-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-618-19748-4
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Listeners may be tempted to gorge on all seven selections in this abridged audio collection at once, but most of the stories deserve to be savored for their complexity and insight. The star in this tiny galaxy is E.L. Doctorow's "Baby Wilson," read by Wyman, about a mentally unbalanced woman who steals a baby. Wyman delivers a pitch perfect performance; he keeps his tone even and neutral and allows the story to tell itself. Lonnie Farmer faces a different challenge in his narration of Louise Erdrich's "Shamengwa." In this instance, Farmer's distinct, sage-like voice enriches this simplistic tale of a violin. Other stories make the transition to audio less successfully. Mona Simpson reads her own work, "Coins," with a gravelly, and often off-putting, intensity; and reader Will LeBow is an odd match for Emily Ishem Raboteau's "Kavita Through Glass," a complex story of race and gender relations. When all is said and done, however, this audiobook's biggest flaw may be selection. Mosley's poetic introduction leads listeners to expect something more innovative than these carefully balanced choices. While these stories represent many ethnicities and religions (including Chinese, Hindu, Muslim, Filipino, African-American and Native American), political correctness is a controversial measure of literary greatness, and this audio abridgement is bound to spark debates as to how these stories stack up to the 13 that didn't make the transition from print. Simultaneous release with the Houghton Mifflin hardcover. (Nov. 2003)

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