Contemplating the appeal of the short story, Lorrie Moore writes in her introduction, "A story's very shortness ensures its largeness of accomplishment, its selfhood and purity. Having long lost its ability to pay an author's rent (in that golden blip between Henry James and television, F. Scott Fitzgerald, for one, wrote stories to fund his novels), the short story has been freed of its commercial life to become serious art, by virtually its every practitioner. As a result, short or long, a story lies less. It sings and informs and blurts. It has nothing to lose." The twenty stories in this year's volume sing to and inform the reader with honesty, intelligence, and often humor. Charles D'Ambrosio's story, "Screenwriter," explores romance in a mental hospital. In "Limestone Diner," Trudy Lewis lays bare one family's strained history in central Missouri. Angela Pneuman's hilarious "All Saints Day" gives readers a child's-eye view of religious fundamentalism. And in John Edgar Wideman's profound story, "What We Cannot Speak About We Must Pass Over in Silence," friendship leads to a meditation on freedom and fairness.
Lorrie Moore has selected twenty stories that rejoice in the absurdities of life, consider the hard truths, and arrive at potent moments of understanding. With The Best American Short Stories 2004 "Lorrie Moore has done writers and readers a great service," Katrina Kenison writes in her foreword, "for her own love of the form and keen sensibility have resulted in a volume that fairly hums with life."
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Published October 14, 2004
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Literature & Fiction.