Best English Short Stories V

Giles Gordon, Editor, David Hughes, Editor W. W. Norton & Company $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-393-03580-3
It's somewhat of a stretch to call this fine collection of stories ``English,'' since it includes work by certified Canadians, South Africans and Irish. English- language stories is what they are, though the editors admit in their pithy introduction that outlets for good stories are getting scarcer in the U.K. It's noteworthy, in fact, that four of the most effective of them made their initial appearance in the New Yorker more than a year ago and were therefore available first to an American readership: Martin Amis's edgily hilarious ``Career Move,'' in which a poet and a screenwriter inhabit each other's worlds; Edna O'Brien's ``Wilderness,'' a lacerating account of a mother's loss of her son in a freak accident; William Trevor's ``Lost Ground,'' a magical story of faith, illusion and death in an Irish backwater; and Alice Munro's ``A Real Life,'' one of her penetrating, wise and absurdist sketches of the oddities of life in rural Ontario. ``West Wirral Story'' by Michael Carson is a delightful and poignant portrait of an impossible mother-daughter relationship, originally written, like other stories here, for BBC radio. Jane Gardan's ``Bevis,'' by another author new to the U.S., is a skillful cynical-romantic reminiscence with a brilliant surprise ending. Nadine Gordimer's ``The Look-Alikes'' is a telling, brief morality tale of university life in South Africa, and Carlo Gebler's ``The Headscarf'' is an equally brief anecdote about life in Northern Ireland that speaks volumes. There is not much verbal experimentation in this anthology, but the selections, which share a keen sense of contemporary life, span a generous range of styles and linger in the mind's eye. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1993
Release date: 12/01/1993
Hardcover - 286 pages - 978-0-393-02720-4
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