The Best American Short Stories 1989

Margaret Atwood, Editor, Shannon Ravenel, Editor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-395-47097-8
Atwood ( Cat's Eye ) defines a good story as one that ``must be told with as much intentness as if the teller's life depended on it,'' and this anthology is, for the most part, unusually compelling. Atwood and series editor Ravenel's 20 selections achieve momentum via a variety of approaches. Blanche McCrary Boyd's ``The Black Hand Girl,'' for example, adopts a delicious deadpan tone to describe a Southern charmer eager to lose her virginity whose date bursts a blood vessel on his knuckle fumbling with her girdle. But the omnibus is predominantly somber: Bharati Mukherjee's ``The Management of Grief'' is wrenchingly narrated by an Indian immigrant to Canada whose husband and children die when a bomb destroys the plane carrying them and many of their neighbors; drugs kill a 16-year-old boy who is as ``ordinary as Wally and the Beav'' in Michael Cunningham's ``White Angel.'' Other pieces are ennobled by cogently drawn characters--the English nanny of Harriet Doerr's deliberately unfashionable ``Edie: A Life''; the small-town poetess of Alice Munro's ``Meneseteung''; the spiritual Chickasaw woman of Linda Hogan's ``Aunt Moon's Young Man.'' (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 341 pages - 978-0-395-47098-5
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