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Joyce Carol Oates
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The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (The Oxford Books of...)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  457 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
In The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Joyce Carol Oates offers a sweeping survey of American short fiction, in a collection of nearly sixty tales that combines classic works with many "different, unexpected" gems, and that invites readers to explore a wealth of important pieces by women and minority writers.
Some selections simply can't be improved on, Oates admit
Hardcover, 768 pages
Published August 29th 2012 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1992)
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May 17, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally! I began reading this book quite a while ago and am happy to report that I've finished. Overall, I was curious to see the evolution of short story writing in America from its dawning to the late 1980's. I have to admit, I didn't begin to enjoy the stories until I read the ones that came after the Civil War. The stories I thought were most exceptional--in voice, in language, in characterization--were written during or after the Harlem Renaissance. These stories include:

"Heat" by Joyce Car
A cool (not-so) little anthology, curated by Joyce Carol Oates. I'm not gonna give it a star-rating, because I never know how to rate anthologies, but it's certainly good reading. Oates put together a collection of little-known stories by America's most well-known writers, from Edgar Allen Poe to Junot Diaz. My only real complaint is that Oates made the odd choice of including her own work in the collection, putting her story alongside Hemingway's and Carver's. You have to laugh a little at a ...more
Sep 08, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction


I read this book over the course of several years in between novels. After teaching American Literature for 5 years a while back, I enjoyed reading a few old favorites, but mostly being exposed to new stuff. Although there were a couple that were hard to get through, most of the stories were great, with standouts from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Louise Erdrich.
Aug 23, 2015 Kyc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptionally rich - both in depth and diversity - collection of American short fiction, edited by the prolific Joyce Carol Oates, here revised for its second, 2012 edition. With 59 stories by 59 authors, from Washington Irvin to Junot Díaz, the American vernacular voices here are truly captivating. Technique in the more modern stories (for me) outclasses what the British were doing in their own postwar short prose fiction. Many gems, off my head I could name Sherwood Anderson's "The Strength ...more
Just read Willa Cather's A Death in the Desert. I love the way that woman writes!!

I'm going to keep a list of the short stories I read before this anthology goes back to the library (I'm sure I won't have time to read it cover-to-cover).

Rip van Winkle, by Washington Irving
Peter Rugg, the Missing Man, by William Austin
The Wives of the Dead, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe
The Ghost in the Mill, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
A White Heron, by Sarah Orne Jewett
The St
Dec 07, 2010 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a perfect anthology, but the stories within represent the cultural diversity in the American Short Story well. Highlights for me include: John Edgar Wideman's "Fever"; Saul Bellow's "Something to Remember Me By"; Paul Bowles' "A Distant Episode"; Jack London's "In a Far Country"; and Tobias Wolff's "Hunter's in the Snow". Maybe my favorites do not represent the diversity of race and gender well, but having read a handful of the stories before deciding to teach the anthology, re-reading them, ...more
Aug 11, 2016 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful and rich. Hard to write a quick, few line review of such a collection!

Oates states at the outset that she deliberately chose for this compilation stories by generally well-known authors that are not as often anthologized as others. Her intent to feature the less known shows, and it's fun, and a real workout to plow through this collection.

Perhaps the most memorable portion of the collection, for me, were the stories by Black writers working in the 20's, 30's, and 40's--Wright, Ellison
Dec 12, 2014 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
A very fine collection that matches almost perfectly with my sensibilities of American literature. My students often remark that the stories are "weird" or "strange" or "depressing." Partly that's due to my selections that reflect my penchant for the slightly off-base. But for me, that's narrative of American literature that I (and apparently Joyce Carol Oates) subscribe to. A bunch of misfits trying to figure out how to eat, build, love, and forgive. As an editor, Oates rejects the pressure of ...more
Mar 23, 2011 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I've never read an anthology of this breadth and depth from start to finish. It was time well spent... even if that time spanned a good five or six months. I pulled it off my shelf between novels and read the introduction. I was intrigued and compelled to start at the beginning and work my way through. Many of the authors I had read before -- certainly not all. Several of the selections I had read, or was at least familiar with. But, I really appreciated that most were not necessarily the most ...more
Mathilde Apelt
Dec 13, 2008 Mathilde Apelt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oates selected short stories written by famous writers, most of them rather unknown. She orders them chronologically, from Washington Irving's "Rip van Winkle" to Pinckney Benedict's (1954- )Town Smokes.
56 stories, including works byPoe, Mark Twain, Henry James,, Stephen Crane, Faaulkner, Ellison, Updike,and Oates herself. An excellent collection if one studies the craft of writing short stories.
Dec 11, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great collection. It spans the late 18th Century to the present, wide a wide variety of styles represented. I had a particular fondness for the more contemporary short stories, including "The Drowned Life" by Jeffrey Ford and "Filthy With Things" by T.C. Boyle. I also appreciated the inclusiuon of some science fiction and hooror in the collection. I also liked the fact that authors from various and disparate backgrounds were included.
Sep 13, 2015 Corinna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
sono arrivata in fondo a questo mattoncino!! ^_^ Il piano era di leggere un racconto al giorno, ma sono stata parecchio discontinua e solo nelle ultime due settimane mi sono impuntata per finirlo..
Una bella raccolta di racconti, di nomi più o meno noti (a me) della letteratura americana. Non ho apprezzato tutti i racconti alla stessa maniera (e neanche me lo aspettavo, visto che sono più di 60 storie!), ma in generale il mio è un giudizio più che positivo.
B. Mason
Feb 13, 2015 B. Mason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read most of this, I did.
I believe this collection is a great way to get a broad swath of samples through the history of the American short story. I'd recommend as Oates does and read in chronological order. If you don't have time I really enjoyed Saul Bellow, Ursula K. Le Guin and Tobias Wolff's stories among the authors I have never read before.
Sep 09, 2015 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent anthology; hats off to editor Joyce Carol Oates for her excellent choices - both of the writers and their work. Several of these authors were not very well known to me, so reading them in this format was a real treat.
Dec 16, 2009 Carrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booksihavetaught
This is a really good anthology of American literature -- it has all of the authors one would want to read in order to be "well read" in American literature, and yet it doesn't have the typically anthologized stories by those writers. You get something fresher and more thought out. It's also inexpensive as big anthologies go. Thanks, Joyce!
I am enjoying this book but it definitely is not a "quick read!" An author of short stories has less pages to tell that story so you really have to slow down and really give that story your undivided attention to catch the message the story is giving. This book is definitely well worth the time it is taking!
May 18, 2013 JP rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book includes two short stories that finally made me understand that essence of the Black American experience where so many other attempts have failed. Sonny's Blues (James Baldwin) and Battle Royal (Ralph Ellison). Other stories I liked: There Will Come Soft Rains (Bradbury), Fleur (Louise Erdich), The Management of Grief (Bharati Mukherjee), and The Things They Carries (Tim O'Brien).
Chelsee Bergen
This anthology has some really outstanding works in it, while others are less interesting, or odd choices of work from otherwise brilliant authors. Certainly worth purchasing if you're looking for an affordable collection of short fiction.
May 31, 2016 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so happy that I read this (not so little) anthology! The evolution of American fiction is so interesting, and so DIFFERENT! It's hard to give it a star rating simply because of the number of narratives included, but I highly recommend this to anyone, you won't regret it.
Apr 30, 2007 elissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
includes the standards (perkins gilman, bradbury, beecher stowe) but also some you don't find in a lot of comps. worth the weeding.
Aug 05, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great collection. A lot of the standards as well as some stories you don't see as often. A good creative mix.
Kayla Batz
Apr 15, 2015 Kayla Batz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting. A wide variety of dazzling and inspiring short stories. I also enjoyed the small synopsizes' of the authors with the stories as well.
Aug 31, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An excellent collection containing familiar classics in addition to lesser known stories from some of the greatest authors of American short fiction.
Mar 21, 2014 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this book for awhile, picking it up now and then. I like this collection both for the stories included and for the introductions provided by Joyce Carol Oates.
Lisa Hern
Jan 13, 2013 Lisa Hern rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't an average anthology. It included a number of lesser known works from great authors, many I hadn't read before.
4.0 stars
Jun 27, 2011 Raelynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a variety of genres are represented in this collection (pieces range from Rip Van Winkle to The Yellow Wallpaper) and the authors are across several eras.
Apr 29, 2008 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I had to read the whole thing, so I read all the stories the summer of 2003. Turns out that this was not the case, but I learned a lot.
Mar 25, 2010 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the ULTIMATE short story with a big chunk of "the greats" included. You won't find a better collection of classic American short stories.
Robin Martin
Sep 29, 2012 Robin Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read my review of this book in an upcoming issue of the San Francisco Book Review and the Sacramento Book Review.
Neil Tillquist
Neil Tillquist rated it it was amazing
Mar 30, 2015
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more
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