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Great American Short Stories

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  111 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
An outstanding collection chronicling the growth of the american short story from humorous legend to powerful contempory fiction.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 1st 1985 by Dell (first published 1957)
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Jan 31, 2008 Edan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: creative writing teachers and students
Recommended to Edan by: Azita
Here's another one for my Oberlin syllabus. I am definitely drowning in short stories right now.


This book has some gems, from Melville's "Bartelby the Scrivener" to "The Real Thing" by Henry James and "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane. It's a terrific little introduction to classic American short story writing (though there isn't anything by Hemingway or Fitzgerald).

Nov 06, 2011 Bruce rated it it was amazing
This is the best short story collection I've ever read. First of all, each selection reveals the intelligence and high critical standards of the editors, Wallace and Mary Stegner. Their introduction explains the criteria for selection, and is also a fascinating and succinct history of the American short story. Highly recommended!
Mar 13, 2014 John rated it liked it
While there is no doubt that most of what is contained in this collection, published in 1957, fits with its title, it is a curiously lopsided sampling. Spanning 130 years of American literature, 15 of its 26 stories date to the 20th century, and 13 of those are drawn from the 25 years between 1925 and 1950. It is nearly impossible to imagine that the editors were unaware of the prejudices exhibited by their choices, but there you have it.

Enjoyable? Yes. Definitive? Hardly. But, perhaps that was
I read this waaaaaay back when I was in 9th long ago...

I must confess, I fudged a little bit on the required reading because my cheapsk- thrifty mother made me depend on the library...which possessed only one copy of this book...and eventually, I had to give it back...

My Teacher: What did you think of that part at the end?
Everyone else: Ohhhh, it was so saaaaad...
Me: was really sad...
My Teacher: Did you like the sailor?
Everyone else: YEAH, he was just so cool!!
Matt Belcroft
Short stories by some of America's greatest writers.

My two favorites from this collection are Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving and Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville.

I must be a lover of longer stories and novels because most of these stories felt like they ended too early. But that's just me.
Jun 18, 2016 Barrie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just can't do the old classic shit. I don't understand their language. I don't know what I'm reading and then I finish a page and have to reread it 10 times, and even then I'm like wtf was that. Got about 50 pages in, started skipping around, and finally had to put it down.
Mar 17, 2013 Hex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-in-english
This is what every short story collection should be. A faithful portrayal of it's theme - in this case American short story history. Plus, it's chronological. It starts of brilliantly, with masterfully executed ideas that are both stylistically and thematically amazing. Then we witness a decline in style, but stories are still interesting and engaging. In the end, through those pretty bad ones at the end that are difficult to read through, it becomes evident that humanity lost something in it's ...more
Chris Gager
Feb 02, 2012 Chris Gager rated it really liked it
The same book I read back in prep school but a different edition/cover shown here. The one I rescued and read was the same edition I had back at Loomis. Interesting to read the same stories after so many years. I really remembered only one well:"The Shuttered Window"(or was it "The Boarded Window"?). Probably because it was creepy. Some great stories("Bartelby") and some not so great. The champ has to be "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane. A stunner for sure..."When it came on night the white wave ...more
Sahar Mashhour
Of these short stories, I only read The Little Wife by William March.
Don Gubler
Apr 22, 2015 Don Gubler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A definitive collection.
Dec 03, 2010 Grace rated it liked it
I only had to read 10 stories in this book - for school, but I found it very interesting to read so many different styles of writing that I would not normally read for myself. Some of it is funny, some of it is really sad, and some of it is just strange. I hope to get the time to read the other 16 stories someday!
Sep 05, 2013 Ian rated it really liked it
The best of this collection are the stories where an open, yet declining West, is as much a character as the poor beat-up people, still dreaming their broken dreams.
Sue K.
Mar 10, 2015 Sue K. rated it really liked it
Was glad to get a good compilation of short stories. Did not read all of the stories, but the book provided me with authors I wanted to read.
Katie Lynn Fox
Dec 05, 2007 Katie Lynn Fox rated it liked it
My favorite story was "The Catbird Seat" but "Young Goodman Brown" was really thought-provoking. Didn't read all of the stories though.
Mohammad Aboomar
Mar 11, 2014 Mohammad Aboomar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was probably the second ever English book I read. It was a great introduction to the world of American short stories.
Chris Gager
Feb 02, 2012 Chris Gager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in Prep School but not all the stories. Read many years later in full. Date is a guess.
Noa me
Sep 24, 2007 Noa me rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody.
this book sucks and i hope u never have to read it. im reading it 4 school.
Nov 11, 2009 umberto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story
Conrad Aiken's "Slent Snow, Secret Snow" is one of the best.
Tessa McKnight
I'm reading this book for school right now.
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