cover image The Best American Short Stories 1994

The Best American Short Stories 1994

. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $11.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-68102-2

Like a fine jeweler, guest editor Wolff used these short stories as gems to create a brilliant work of art with each stone being enhanced by its proximity to another. Wolff has assembled a lively collection of fresh new voices including Christopher Tilghman, Thom Jones, Carol Anshaw, Sherman Alexie, Chris Offutt, Jonathan Wilson, Stuart Dybek and Tony Earley. ``One after another,'' Wolff states in the introduction, ``these emerging writers astonished me with their talent and range and generosity.'' Nancy Krusoe's ``Landscape and Dream'' is painful and raw, a stream-of-conscious tapestry of a young woman's coming of age. ``Fur,'' by Laura Glen Louis considers an old man's senseless infatuation with a heartless young woman. Alice Elliott Dark examines the bond between a mother and her dying son in ``In the Gloaming,'' and Robert Olen Butler explores the Vietnam war's impact on the soul in ``Salem''. But the joy of this book has as much to do with the pacing and organization of the collection as with the striking content of the stories themselves. The contributors' notes at the end of the book are of special interest, kind of an ``inside look'' at the authors' impressions of their own writings. For those who fear for the future of the written word, this volume is a testament to the vitality of American short fiction. (Nov.)