“When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you,” George Saunders once said, and it remains true whether the story was written one year ago or a hundred.
Though I still know many people who never go out of their way to pick up a collection, short stories are becoming more popular every year. And it’s no wonder—in the days of busy schedules and fast-paced lives, it’s easier to finish a story or two than work through an entire novel. In large collections, readers have the option to browse, picking out only the stories that appeal to their tastes.
It was with this in mind that Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor set out to collect the most beloved stories written by Americans over the last century. 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories spans the decades to find the works that have impacted our nation the most, including the writings of forty authors.
Many of the names will sound familiar—Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner—while others are sure to be newly discovered gems. Names of today make appearances as well, one of the most well-known being Lauren Groff, author of the New York Times bestselling novel Fates and Furies.
Where this anthology truly stands apart, though, is in the extras. Each story is introduced with a small section on the author and his or her writing process. Reading William Faulkner is enjoyable, but even more so when you learn that he began writing to impress the ladies; John Cheever’s insights into the Great Depression are more profound when you learn what he personally endured during that time. The editors also include quotes by many on the authors about why they write, how they write, and who they write for.
Whether you’re looking for something historical or innovative, short or bulky, this collection may have just what you need. Your library also owns many of the novels and essays written by the included authors, so if you discover someone you like, be sure to come back for more.
Thanks for reading. –Autumn
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