cover image The Best American Short Stories 1993

The Best American Short Stories 1993

Louise Erdrich. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $11.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-63627-5

Erdrich ( Love Medicine ) has assembled a remarkably rich collection of short stories that probe the state of their characters' hearts and minds as they negotiate familial relationships and cope with births, deaths and the living that goes on in between. Jane Shapiro depicts a single mother endlessly hassled by teenagers who have discovered their sexual selves; after she is implicated in the death of a friend's baby, Lorrie Moore's protagonist makes a stab at going on with a normal life, even marrying and going off to a pretentious academic conference with her economist husband; and Susan Power's Sioux widow, whose child has just died in 1935 North Dakota, uses magic to take a terrible revenge on her negligent cousin. John Updike's elderly man has stopped fearing death and is ready to embrace it; cancer is a painful and humiliating death for a woman in a piece by Thom Jones; believing herself to be a burden on her family, Alice Fulton's Irish widow feels she has no place in this world; and Mary Gordon shows a child grieving for a dead father whom her mother doesn't seem to miss. Other stories deal with May-December relationships, rape, the mutability of history, infidelity, the restorative power of natural wonders and the corruption of indigenous populations. If this collection can be seen as a reflection of the state of this year's short fiction in general, then short fiction is thriving indeed. (Nov.)