cover image The Best American Short Stories 1995

The Best American Short Stories 1995

. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-71179-8

Smiley, this year's editor, has drawn together an eclectic and powerful selection of stories that makes this an exemplary introduction to a consistently reliable annual anthology. The writers included here range from the well-established to the completely unknown, with a full half of the authors included yet to publish a book with a major press. Equally exciting as the discovery of a new writer can be the thrill of seeing an established writer break new ground, as happens in Don DeLillo's ``The Angel Esmeralda,'' which involves an old nun, an abandoned young girl and an apparent miracle in the South Bronx. Making his fourth consecutive appearance in the collection, Thom Jones uses his usual cast of wired and edgy characters, along with the extraordinary comic personality of George Babbitt, a pet baboon with a fondness for Canadian Mist whiskey in ``Way Down Deep in the Jungle.'' Among the newer writers, standouts include Avner Mandelman, whose ``Pity'' is a taut story about Israeli secret agents out to capture a Nazi living in Paris, and Edward Falco, the author of ``The Artist,'' in which a man must outsmart desperate figures from his past. This is a rich and rewarding collection that provides ample confirmation of both the diversity of American life and the vitality of the contemporary short story. (Nov.)