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The Best American Short Stories 2012 (The Best American Short Stories)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,731 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
The Best American Series
First, Best, and Best-Selling

The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Richard Thomas
Dec 26, 2012 Richard Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These collections are always hit and miss for me. I love reading them because you know that you will find one or two amazing stories, maybe a new voice or two, and run into some surprises. Sometimes you see the "big names" like Saunders and Munro and think, "Oh, they'll be great," and they are. Other years, they disappoint. This year, it was the lesser known authors that blew me away.

I can't stand reading stories about white, upper-class, educated authors or entitled elitists. Please, no more. A
Jul 21, 2013 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I taught this book at Berkeley this year with many reservations. First, most of the stories just weren't good: they were, in fact, terrible in comparison to the stories picked by Geraldine Brooks last year. Second, there was a distinct lack of authorial diversity: many of the stories were staid accounts of "quirky" white folk with relatively uninteresting problems. Still, I was interested in hearing what students had to say, so I taught it, and discussions were animated and fun. A few of the sto ...more
I didn't read the George Saunders short story.

"The Last Speaker of the Language" by Carol Anshaw was beautiful. It was a little story about a single lesbian mom and her family life. The details about every life made the novel shine. It was a bittersweet story. Four stars and it reminded me to read her novel, Carry the One.

I started "Pilgrim Life" by Taylor Antrim, but I couldn't stand to read about self-involved, dot-com new money brats. One star.

"What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Fran
James Renner
According to the New York Times, we’re entering a new Golden Age of short stories due to the explosion of eBook and eReaders and the public’s lazy attitude toward story length. Whatever the reason, I’ve noticed a lot of authors going back to work on their short game. And so this semester, in my Fiction Appreciation class at the University of Akron, we’re reading The Best American Short Stories, 2012. True to its name, there’s some goodies in here. Some stand-outs:

What We Talk About When We Talk
Jan 05, 2013 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fifteen of the 20 stories in this anthology were outstanding, taking the reader deeply into a vivid world where people’s relationships cause them to come close to catastrophe but elements of those same relationships guide them out again. What makes these stories great are the writing, which takes the reader quickly into the scene and deeply into minds and hearts of the characters.

One story was about a gay woman, raising a girl child and struggling with her alcoholic and demented mother who fort
Jan 04, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 4.5
A few words of intro. This was a great, great batch of stories. One of the best I can remember, and I have been reading these collections for more than 10 years. My grades are even more harsh than normal. In order to get some separation I had to be a tough grader. All of these stories are fantastic and worth the read…..something I don’t always feel every year.

The Last Speaker of the Language – Carol Anshaw - 5
Simply wonderful. Amazing depth of characters in such a short time. Creative, or
Andy Miller
Mar 21, 2013 Andy Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy the author's notes at the end of the collection, but it especially enhanced my understanding of my two favorite stories in the collection

"Anything Goes" is a first account by an alcoholic panhandler who while battling his demons, still saves enough from his panhandling to buy a hardback Harry Potter book for his son in foster care. Jesse Walter later explains that the story was inspired after he gave $10 to a woman who said she needed money to buy groceries for her kids. Walter as
Brad Hodges
"If a critic suggests that this anthology reads as if it was assembled by a heterosexual Caucasian male born during the Kennedy administration, I would have to plead no contest and throw myself on the mercy of the court," writes guest editor Tom Perrotta in his introduction to this year's collection of Best American Short Stories. Perrotta, who has written some marvelous stories, has chosen several stories that hew close to his style--a kind of drolly humorous look at hapless suburbanish America ...more
Mary Soderstrom
I look forward every year to the new volume of The Best American Short Sires, a fact which my family is well aware of so the current year is always under the Christmas tree. The 2011 collection, chosen by guest editor Geraldine Brooks, was one of the best ones, I think.

But the 2012 version was a big disappointment. Guest editor Tom Perotta's choices are full of bling and video games, which reflects a desire to be on the edge of the next big thing, I think.

To be sure, many of the point of view ch
Ron Nie
Apr 18, 2015 Ron Nie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I only LOVED a few of these. Englander, Saunders, Gaitskill, Gay, Walter. Good stuff. Errbody else can go home.
Jan 31, 2013 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the past four or five years, you've known what you're going to get with the Best American Short Stories series: a few stand-out stories from new geniuses; some solid work from the old stand-bys; and some absolute garbage tossed in for good measure. It's fair to say that 2012 read the operating procedures dutifully.

This year's editor, Tom Perrotta, set a vision in his introduction of a darker world shrouded in clean language. He said he loved stories that were concise, filled with emotion but
Dec 11, 2013 Jillwilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to write at length about this collection but read it early in the year and so it has faded in my memory. This collection is always a stand-out. I usually read it over Christmas, eking it out at a story or two a day. It is such a wonderful guide to contemporary American fiction. I love it as much as I love the New Yorker Fiction podcast. (

There were three stand-outs for me in the collection:
Carol Anshaw, “The Last Speaker of the Language”
Nathan E
This is a nice compilation of short stories recently published in magazines like The New Yorker, Hobart, Ploughshares, American Short Fiction, Tin House, McSweeney's, and others. The collection also includes George Saunders short story Tenth of December which is included in his recent collection of short stories by the same name.

Several of the stories stood out for me including North Country, Miracle Polish, The Sex Lives of African Girls, and Anything Helps.

From sensual and sexy to bizarre and
Jan 13, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I recently bought Best American Short Stories 2012 and 2011 as my first ever ebook purchases. I have print copies of the 2009 and 2010 editions, which I read in piecemeal for creative writing classes, but I wanted to start fresh.

I read both of series editor Heidi Piltor's introductions first--in 2011 she lamented that so many American and Canadian short story writers were setting stories provincially in kitchens and other local areas without challenging themselves and addressing broader world i
Sep 16, 2013 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like any anthology, this one had its ups and downs, though the primary sin of the clinkers wasn't that they were mawkish, just ephemeral. I found myself gravitating toward the hooky stories with unusual conceits, such as Mike Meginnis' "Navigators," about a father and son playing an existential video game; Steven Millhauser's "Miracle Polish," which makes mirrors not just brighter, but enhances the appearance of anyone that looks into them; and Eric Puchner's "Beautiful Monsters," about a societ ...more
Carol N
I'm not a real fan of short stories. It's been a long time since I have stopped to read a collection. Today's contemporary short stories are not like the "classics plot driven story of Twain, London, Poe, or O'Henry. I certainly agree with other reviewers who think that the contemporary stories seem to be more "a slice of life” and leaves more room for you, the reader, to insert conjecture and react.

I totally loved "Anything Helps," told from the point of view of a homeless person trying or mayb
Mar 19, 2014 Tuckova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best in the series that I've read. The introduction was fantastic. The stories were eclectic (although... "kinda sexy" might be a theme) and almost universally interesting to me.
An uneven collection of the "best" short stories, more so than prior editions. Some of these stories I loved (Mary Gaitskill, Steven Millhauser, Nathan Englander, Alice Munro, Taiye Selasi, George Saunders), and some others I detested. The extreme unevenness is why I'm giving the collection only three stars, even though I'm reminded that all art should compel us to feel *something,* and by this limited definition the collection is a greater success than the three stars would suggest.
Sian Griffiths
I didn't love every story in here, but the good ones are so very good. My personal favorites are Nathan Englander's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank," Steven Milhauser's "Miracle Polish," Eric Puncher's "Beautiful Monsters," George Saunder's "Tenth of December," Kate Walbert's "M&M World," and Jess Walter's "Anything Helps." For those stories alone, the collection is well, well worth the price.
Ml Stephens
Jan 29, 2013 Ml Stephens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say that each of this annual collection has surprises in it would be denegrating to this particular year. Full of genre fiction, new themes, and terrific writing. THis is a slow read each year for me, like a candy sampler. This was a great year. Moved on to the next one.
Oh, favorite? Nathan Englander's "What we talk about..."
Apr 24, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So to a strong start! Just finished What We Talk About WHen We Talk About Anne Frank - by Nathan Englander, from the New Yorker. Excellent, layered, insightful, interesting story compessed into 10 pages. i love short stories and am stunned by how poignant they can be. Not quite as good as 2011 anthology -- but very good.
Laura Ender
Sep 01, 2013 Laura Ender rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite stories: "The Other Place" by Mary Gaitskill, "Navigators" by Mike Meginnis, "Diem Perdidi" by Julie Otsuka, "Volcano" by Lawrence Osborne, "The Sex Lives of African Girls" by Taiye Selasi, and "Anything Helps" by Jess Walter. "Axis" by Alice Munro is also quite good but so very similar to so much else by Alice Munro.
I'm switching up my short story anthology this semester for my Harvard Extension students with this volume. I've always loved this series since first studying fiction as an undergraduate in 2000. I haven't decided yet which five stories I'm going to assign. Decisions...
Feb 09, 2013 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently nothing great was written about happiness or joy in 2012. The dreariness of story after depressing story becomes a bit much. Despite that, and notwithstanding a few duds, some really great stories.
Gary Garth McCann
Really, this book would be better titled "Some American Short Stories 2012." I'm a member of a short-story reading group, and none of us found this volume, or others in the "best short stories" compelling. I suspect the problem lies in the fact that stories are selected from literary journals that, in turn, have selected them for some reason other than that they are interesting and entertaining. We formed this short-story group years ago, because short stories fit our reading need, but finding i ...more
Aug 24, 2016 Oliviatheblue rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 unfortunately I didn't love any of the stories in here and struggled to get through a vast majority of this collection
Feb 19, 2015 caroline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Sadly a lot of stories in this collection were misses for me. The two best stories were by big names, Alice Munro and George Saunders, which is unfortunate because I like to read collections like this to discover more lesser known writers.

Alice Munro's Axis was my favorite. It made me want to drop the book and grab her short story collection that is quietly sitting on my bookcase waiting to be read. Tenth of December by George Saunders was a reread for me but still enjoyable when compared to th
Feb 08, 2016 Raul rated it it was amazing
It was thrilled that this year one of the favorite authors of stories found in this series, Alice Munro, was given the Nobel Prize in Literature. Here she is represented by "Axis," which she wrote for the New Yorker, and tells about two young Canadian farm girls who get scholarships to attend college. They are really there less for the education and more to nab a promising husband and the two girlfriends each go about it differently, with a different on their lives and the husbands or husbands-t ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as strong as previous years.
Best American Collections are dependable - you know that whether you're reading their collection of essays, short stories, travel writing, or whatever, you are going to be getting dependably good writing.

But sometimes dependable isn't very exciting. The writing in these stories feels solid, but rarely surprising. The content while admirable does not often feel particularly eye-opening.

I think that diversity was the main missing ingredient when looking at the collection as a whole. For the most p
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Short Story lovers: Best American Short Stories 2012 - 99 Cent Ebook 1 9 Aug 08, 2013 03:43AM  
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Tom Perrotta (born August 13, 1961) is an American novelist and screenwriter best known for his novels Election (1998) and Little Children (2004), both of which were made into critically acclaimed, Golden Globe-nominated films. Perrotta co-wrote the screenplay for the 2006 film version of Little Children with Todd Field, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay ...more
More about Tom Perrotta...

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The Best American Short Stories (1 - 10 of 89 books)
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“we read fiction to satisfy a more basic need—to imagine our way into other lives, to explore characters and situations that tell us something new about the world, and maybe about ourselves, or to remind us of something important that we may have forgotten.” 2 likes
“And later, of course, she got too busy. She asks Royce if he heard anything from Grace, ever. “No. No. Why should I?” “I just thought.” “No.” “I thought you might have looked her up later on.” “Not a good idea.” She has disappointed him. Prying. Trying to get at some spot of live regret right under the ribs. A woman.” 0 likes
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