The Best American Short Stories 1990

Richard Ford, Editor, Shannon Ravenel, Editor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-395-51596-9
Twenty tales eyeball fragile childhoods, crumbling marriages, illness and despair, and many splendidly realize characterization, mood and voice in the space of a few pages. C. D. Godshalk's inner-city drug dealer yearns to be a prep-school student, while Patricia Henley's young narrator unwillingly forgives her mother, whose alcoholism scatters the narrator and her siblings into foster homes and institutions. Dennis McFarland's protagonist must watch his best buddy die of AIDS, and an older colleague's disintegration compels Richard Bausch's generally noncontemplative middle-aged priest to obsess about his own health. Joan Wickersham depicts a wife who bonds with her Brooklyn roommates to the exclusion of her out-of-town hubbie, and Elizabeth Tallent demonstrates how a happily remarried man can begrudge his ex-wife the company of their son. Set during the decline of the Hapsburg empire, Steven Millhauser's story of a Jewish illusionist who may have sold his soul to the devil for the gift of magic is foil to the volume's prevailing themes of modern angst. Slighter efforts by Madison Smartt Bell, Siri Hustvedt, Pamela Houston and Joy Williams also appear here, as does an introduction by Ford ( Rock Springs ) who explains his choice of two stories each by Bausch and Alice Munro and six from the New Yorker. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
Paperback - 374 pages - 978-0-395-51617-1
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