The Best American Short Stories 2011

Edited by Geraldine Brooks, series edited by Heidi Pitlor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-547-24216-3
Children and their parents feature prominently, if predictably, in this year's collection, which includes stories by three Pulitzer Prize-winners. Some of the stronger pieces—such as Sam Lipsyte's "The Dungeon Master," about an endearing young cast of misfit fantasy-game players, and Ricardo Nuila's "Dog Bites," in which a pedantic but loving father helps his son navigate the perils of Little League and life without Mom—tackle the difficulties of adolescence with fresh humor and vigor. Though most of the stories stick to a neutral third-person perspective, or feature an older first-person narrator reflecting on youth, one notable exception is Richard Powers' excellent "To the Measures Fall," which is written in the second-person and poses piercing questions to the reader as the story follows the main character from her young adulthood to death. In Joyce Carol Oates's bleak and heartfelt "ID," a 13-year-old girl must identify her dead mother at the morgue. In George Saunders' "Escape from Spiderhead," inmates at a futuristic prison enact hilarious, disturbing tests upon one another. Though many of the names here are familiar, this powerful new work re-establishes these authors' command of the form. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 363 pages - 978-0-547-24208-8
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-547-71929-0
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