cover image Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops 1998

Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops 1998

. Touchstone Books, $25.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-684-83836-6

For many years, it seemed that young writers took the dictum ""write what you know"" as a license to create endless highly personalized stories of suburban malfeasance. Judging from this collection, those days are long gone. Not every work is flawless--there are awkward dialogues and oblique narratives that are more maladroit than experimental. Whatever their faults, however, most of the 22 contributors here are willing to imagine being someone else, somewhere else. Some of the best stories are surrealistically inventive: Natasha Waxman's account of a college dropout's transmogrification into a primitive state; Tenaya Rahel Darlington's eerie tale of Poe-like obsession; Christopher A. Pasetto's slyly funny story of a teenage conspiracy theorist's first love. And even the less magical contributions dare to go beyond the merely confessional, as authors tackle characters of the opposite sex and wildly varying ages. At its strongest and weakest, the second installment in this series is heartening evidence of courage in the classroom and on the page. (Feb.)