cover image The Best American Short Stories 1992

The Best American Short Stories 1992

. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-59304-2

Edited by Stone ( Outerbridge Reach ), this collection of 20 skillful stories (nine originated in the New Yorker ) strikes many melancholy chords. Amy Bloom's tortured schizophrenic commits suicide; Tim Gautreaux limns a Depression-era pump repairman who is wooed and ultimately mugged and robbed by a widow who murdered her husband; and in a story by Reynolds Price, a white man's adulterous affair with a black woman in 1940s North Carolina shatters his family and endangers his lover's life. Rick Bass depicts the depravity of two developers of a Montana valley; Joyce Carol Oates conveys the viciousness of a suburban community; Robert Olen Butler imagines an aged Vietnamese living in New Orleans who fears his son-in-law and grandson are involved in the murderous deeds of an anti-Communist group; and Marshall Klimasewiski's Korean emigre suffers guilt over her miscarriage and her self-imposed exile. Three highlights here are Christopher Tilghman's evocation of an ex-Wall Streeter who abandons his family; Alice Munro's story of a small-town Canadian librarian who never gets over being jilted in the wake of WW I by a beau she has never met; and Mavis Gallant's tale--which adds a welcome note of irony and whimsy--about a headstrong Parisian who throws a monkey wrench into her wedding plans. (Nov.)