The Best American Short Stories 2002 share button
Sue Miller
Format Paperback
Dimensions 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.89 (d)
Pages 402
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date October 2002
ISBN 9780618131730
Book ISBN 10 0618131736
About Book

Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to the twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind.

This year's Best American Short Stories features a rich mix of voices, from both intriguing new writers and established masters of the form like Michael Chabon, Edwidge Danticat, Richard Ford, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Arthur Miller. The 2002 collection includes stories about everything from illicit love affairs to family, the immigrant experience and badly behaved children—stories varied in subject but unified in their power and humanity. In the words of this year's guest editor, the best-selling author Sue Miller, "The American short story today [is] healthy and strong . . . These stories arrived in the nick of time . . . to teach me once more what we read fiction for."


Library Journal

This year's edition of the popular short story anthology contains many pieces that focus on the past as either a setting or a counterpoint to the protagonist's current life. As guest editor Miller states in her introduction, the realist story seems to have taken hold as the American form of this art. There is very little experimental writing, except perhaps in the trend toward covering a surprisingly broad span of time in a short amount of space. The always reliable Alice Munro gives us a fascinating character sketch in "Family Furnishings." In Akhil Sharma's "Surrounded by Sleep," a young Hindu boy's most comforting image of God is a cardigan-clad Clark Kent. And both E.L. Doctorow ("A House on the Plains") and Melissa Hardy ("The Heifer") remind us that the American frontier was far from quaint or picturesque. Writers like Arthur Miller, Michael Chabon, and Beth Lordan are also featured. Recommended for most collections.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

A varied portrait of the modern short story as we know it today-at least as seen in these 20, presumably best, pieces from the past calendar year: Miller, guest editor for 2001, says in her introduction that she took the B.A.S.S. job, in part, to "learn something about where the American short story [is], what was going on with it at this moment in its history, and in ours." We'll learn something too. The standouts here are Michael Chabon's "Along a Frontage Road," about a man's trip to choose a pumpkin with his son that becomes, through its innocence, a prism revealing love and affection; and Leonard Michaels's "Nachman from Los Angeles," a tale as weirdly sad as it is funny, about a man asked to write a term paper on Metaphysics for one Prince Ali Massid of Persia. Jim Shepherd's story of a homosexual love affair aboard the Hindenberg ("Love and Hydrogen") is granted poignancy from the doom we know to be approaching. Jhumpa Lahiri's "Nobody's Business" is a love story complicated by telephone suitors trying to arrange their own marriages; and another tale of complex love (Doctorow's "A House on the Plains") sees a woman place an ad for a husband, then turn to malfeasance. Richard Ford, Arthur Miller, and Alice Munro contribute pleasing pieces, though these bits might not make the "Best of . . . " in their own bodies of work. Akhil Sharma explores ideas of God through the tale of a family with a terribly injured son ("Surrounded by Sleep"), and mechanical engineer Karl Iagnemma explores love between mathematicians, if such is possible, in "Zilkowski's Theorem," where the refutation of one man's theory is revenge for past betrayal and the opening of an even larger can of worms. A bit thincompared to years past: heavy on realism and tales of simple theme. (Interestingly, there are only two duplications between this volume and the O. Henry's [see Dark, above]: "Family Furnishings," by Alice Munro, and "Seven," by Edwidge Danticat.) $100,000 ad/promo