Books We Love and a Few Books We Don't


Martin Wilson

1. Amy and Isabelle: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout
2. Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
3. The Wonders of the Invisible World: Stories by David Gates
4. Layover: A Novel by Lisa Zeidner
5. My Date With Satan: Stories by Stacey Richter

1. Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
2. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
3. Jernigan by David Gates
4. Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
5. Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore
6. Open Secrets by Alice Munro
7. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
8. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
9. Amy and Isabelle: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout
10. Felicia's Journey by William Trevor

Desert Island
1. Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie
2. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
3. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus
4. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
5. Selected Stories by Alice Munro
6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
7. Getting Over Homer by Mark O'Donnell
8. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
9. Searching for Caleb by Anne Tyler
10. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

This year was an eventful one for short stories. Nathan Englander (For the Relief of Unbearable Urges) and Melissa Bank (The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing) received large advances for their debut collections, not to mention mongo publicity and high praise from many critics. Meanwhile, John Updike edited The Best American Short Stories of the Century, which actually crept up a few bestseller lists; many contested his selections and omissions, but it was nice to see a hefty work of literature generate excitement, and, shock of shocks, sales. And acclaimed novelists Annie Proulx and David Gates showed that they could master the short story with their respective superb collections, Close Range: Wyoming Stories and The Wonders of the Invisible World.

On a sad note, Story magazine, which quarterly published some of the liveliest and most exciting voices in American short fiction (including Englander), published its last issue this winter; its demise is a huge loss to short story writers and readers, especially during a time when outlets for such work are decreasing. Let's face it: Most writers don't receive the attention that has been showered on Englander and Bank, and so many are simply happy to have a story get published anywhere. Story's demise is a sob-inducing reminder of the uphill battle most struggling writers face in finding outlets for their work.

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