cover image Best New American Voices 2000

Best New American Voices 2000

Wolff. Mariner Books, $30.95 (388pp) ISBN 978-0-15-601322-2

In compiling this anthology, Wolff sidestepped the prestigious literary journals and popular magazines publishing serious fiction, and collected 20 polished short stories from more than 100 North American writing programs and conferences, including the Bread Loaf Conference, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Iowa Writers Workshop and the PEN/Prison Writing Committee. All the entries here are by emerging writers, many still studying their craft, but the quality of the work showcased is world class. The longest and most outstanding entry is Jennifer Vanderbe's ""The Hatbox,"" an intricate look at the lives of three generations of women and the cumbersome secret that ties them together. The piece exhibits relaxed, old-fashioned storytelling reminiscent of W. Somerset Maugham. The opening story, ""In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd"" by Ana Menendez, is a litany of humorous anecdotes zeroing in on the plight of wealthy and educated Cubans who fled to the U.S. only to find their credentials useless and menial employment their only way of surviving. ""The Tower Pig"" by Scott Antworth captures a moment of compassion and understanding between a hard-nosed guard and the prisoner he is escorting to a funeral. Merrill Feitell's witty and moving ""Bike New York"" skillfully portrays the inner turmoil of a soon-to-be-married man on an unplanned, thought-provoking jaunt with a teenage girl. Other writers to watch are Ladette Randolph, Shimon Tanaka, William Gay and Maile Meloy. While unfamiliar names today, these voices are likely to show up in Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories in years to come. (Nov.)