Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story

The Paris Review, Author
The Editors of the Paris Review. Picador, $16 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-00598-4
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-250-01618-8
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A selection of fiction culled from the influential journal’s archive with a twist: writers often featured in the journal’s pages—Lorrie Moore, David Means, Ann Beattie, Wells Tower, Ali Smith, among others— offer brief critical analyses of their selections, elevating this book from a greatest hits anthology to a kind of mini-M.F.A. Sam Lipsyte’s take on Mary Robison’s “Likely Lake” is as much a demonstration of the economy of powerful writing as the story itself and Ben Marcus’s tribute to Donald Barthelme’s “magician... language” in “Several Garlic Tales” illustrates how learning can occur when one writer inhabits another writer’s mind to geek out over what they both love. If the essays are uneven, the stories almost never are, ranging from the widely read (Ethan Canin’s “The Palace Thief”) to the unexpected (Mary-Beth Hughes’s bleakly funny “Pelican Song”). The editors call this a guide for young writers and readers interested in literary technique, and the book achieves that purpose while also serving as a tribute to the role the Paris Review has played in maintaining the diversity of the short story form. The collection reminds us that good stories are always whispering into each other’s ears. (Oct.)
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