Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
am 6. Mai 2000
I am a big fan of the "Best American Short Stories" series, an annual collection compiled and published by the Houghton Mifflin Company because I can't get around to reading all those great stories in all those great magazines flooding the market. I've been behind for so long, I was glad when I recently discovered a collection entitled "Best American Short Stories of the Century" edited by John Updike -- a sort of best of the best.
Some years, I have found the annual anthology more appealing, and some years less so. "The Best American Short Stories, 1999" edited by Amy Tan is very entertaining and more memorable than the collections of the past few years. My acid test is this -- can I remember today the gist of a story I read last month? In other words, did it leave a lasting impression? Tan's selections are holding up pretty well. I won't soon forget 'The Hermit's Story', the first entry in her book. I discovered something very remarkable when I read it, but I can't share it because I don't want to ruin the story for you.
These anthologies reflect the taste of the guest editor, as well as the skill of the chosen writers, but why not? Katrina Kenison, the Series Editor, says there's a surfeit of great material, so why shouldn't the guest editor reflect her outlook with her selection.
I think Tan's stories show she is very interested in the 'minority' viewpoint. You might imagine this occurs because Amy Tan is a Chinese descent American, and maybe it does. However, when I use the term minority I mean interestingly idiosyncratic.
Odd and unusual people populate these stories, and odd things happen to them. Of course, if they didn't have unusual experiences we might not find the energy to finish the page. But oddity alone is not enought to sustain the reader. One has to experience a connection with the character. I came to care what happened to most of these oddballs.
Visualize Pam Houston's character, a young woman who says, " When I was four years old and with my parents in Palm Beach, Florida, I pulled a seven-hundred-pound cement urn off its pedestal and onto my legs crushing both femurs." Or, consider this excerpt from Melissa Hardy's tale, "'Once,' Mrs Flowers told George, 'she ate a whole pile of socks I was fixing to darn. Another time she ate a Bible'." I feel frustration, sorrow, and/or amusement when I read these words. The stories grip, they entertain, they amuse. The are some of America's best short stories.