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The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: 50 North American Short Stories Since 1970

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  884 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Selected from a survey of more than five hundred English professors, short story writers, and novelists, this revised and updated second edition features fifty remarkable stories by a wide spectrum of stylistically and culturally diverse authors.
Paperback, 652 pages
Published May 22nd 2008 by Touchstone (first published 1999)
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Feb 27, 2017 Elisabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
I had to read this for class :) Definitely recommend checking it out if you're looking to get into short stories! I'd say my favorites were, "The Fireman's Wife" by Richard Bausch, "Silver Water" by Amy Bloom, "The Ceiling" by Kevin Brockmeier, "After Rosa Parks" by Janet Desaulniers, "Territory" by David Leavitt, "The Kind of Light that Shines of Texas" by Reginald McKnight, "Orientation" by Daniel Orozco, "Pilgrims" by Julie Orringer, "Brownies" by ZZ Packer, "Sea Oak" by George Saunders, "Ton ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Myles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Need I write anything at all? Simply look at the authors collected here - the variety and quality is astounding. Tbe best of what the English language had to offer in literary short fiction from 1970 to 1999.

Are all the stories life-changing works of art that will stay with you forever?

No, but I guarantee that there is no better anthology out there coming close to this one - there is truly something for everyone here and undoubted proof of the power of the short story.
Jan 10, 2008 Edan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers and students of fiction writing
This is the second edition, which I'm going to be teaching from. Except for a few of the same stories from the last version, this is a totally different book!


I didn't read through the first edition quite so exhaustively as I did with this second edition, so it's unfair of me to say which one is better. I didn't like all the stories in this book, but many of them ask some interesting questions regarding structure, character, point of view--that is, they're useful for teaching, and learning.

Jacqueline West
Jan 26, 2009 Jacqueline West rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this on one of those bargain racks at Waldenbooks, and man, was it worth the $4.99. For a collection this large, the quality is consistently excellent, and almost all of the modern masters of the short story are represented: Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, Sherman Alexie, etc. It would have been well worth the price just for the sake of Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain," Richard Bausch's "The Man Who Knew Belle Starr," and Reginald McKnight's "The Kind of ...more
Apr 01, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is probably the best deal I've ever gotten. One book, fifty stories by fifty writers. While none of the stories in here blew me away, all of them are very good and they are a good introduction to a lot of great writers that I hope to read more from. I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants an easy way to be exposed to a lot of good writing.
Jan 29, 2009 Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-fun
50 short stories. I couldn't get through two of them. However, there were four that were so beautifully written they made my heart ache. I plan on using several of them in the classroom for my students. Two things were great about this book: the fact I didn't stay up until 3am reading and I have a slew of other books I want/need to read written by some of these authors.
Mar 20, 2013 Stefanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of these stories were fantastic. This is not only a collection of entertaining stories but also a collection of instructive stories. I will definitely refer back to this volume often. There were a few duds in my opinion, so I'm curious to know why those stories were selected for the anthology.
Oct 14, 2012 Sam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you for depressing me over and over again.
Adiva Abdulkar
Jan 03, 2017 Adiva Abdulkar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leisure, favorites
I love this anthology and I always will. My professor had us get this for my first university creative writing class and I felt compelled to buy a copy for myself once the class was over. It's full of great stories that showcase excellent writing skills as well as intriguing themes/metaphors and unique characters. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys writing contemporary stories.
Jeff Lanter
May 29, 2012 Jeff Lanter rated it really liked it
This is a pretty strong collection of short stories, some of which I had already read in various fiction workshops. It is impossible to collect the best works or to satisfy every reader, but I felt like this collection tries to get a lot of different authors both culturally and aesthetically. I thought the beginning and middle stories were stronger than the last third for whatever reason. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be The Caretaker. It is hands down one of the most powerful st ...more
My advanced fiction class used this as a textbook in college; we read various selections and discussed them in class when we weren't work-shopping our peers' stories. As a new writer just beginning to get serious about writing, this collection offered a variety of stories told in different styles that helped me understand individual writers' voices. Though short, these stories are complex; each time I read one, I draw something new from it, something that I overlooked on previous readings.

Apr 13, 2008 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with any collection like this, you will love some and there will be others that you don't care for nearly as much.

Unfortunately, there are some in the beginning (it's set up alphabetically by author) that I've forgotten about. So the ones I do remember from the beginning were quite memorable (obviously) and I'll include those in what I think are the 5-star stories (though I've probably missed some as well):

John Barth's "Click," Donald Barthelme's "The School," Raymond Carver's "Errand," Juno
Liz Mourant
Mar 13, 2012 Liz Mourant rated it it was amazing
This anthology, at the halfway mark, has already surpassed my expectations held out for a prime cut of anthologized meat! Inside my book, I felt the need to distinguish the very best of stories with underliner and checks as they were stellar examples of craft. Yet, nearly every story inside this book is a winner and a delight to feast one's imagination and desires for fulfilling fiction within. Joyous, but not wholly from joy...often from dailiness, sorrowing, and variegated jousts with the stuf ...more
Jan 17, 2011 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes after reading too many novels I find a short-story collection to be just the break I need. I'm always looking for hidden treasures no matter what I read. When there is such a variety of authors and writing styles I know I'm bound to find some real gems. I gave four or five stars to ten of these fifty stories. (That's 10% as compared 38% of fiction and nonfiction books. At least I know I can finish a short story without thinking afterwards that I've wasted a whole lot of time.) My favor ...more
May 08, 2012 David rated it really liked it
Probably one of the better short story anthologies I've read (still have the Oxford and Ecco anthology left). Starts off incredibly strong, meanders for a bit, gets interesting again, then boring, then great, then really great, and then finishes strong. So, your typical anthology.

Absolute favorites:

"Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story," Russel Banks
"The Hermit's Story," Rick Bass
"The Fireman's Wife," Richard Bausch
"The Disappeared," Charles Baxter
"The Caretaker," Anthony Doerr
"Communist," Richard
Jul 20, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short story fans
A great collection of short stories. My only complaint is that i'd read many of the short-stories previously. I can't say i love every story in this collection. This is quite the eclectic group of stories and one out of three stories is incredible.

Some of my favorites in the book:
Richard, Mark: Strays
Kincaid, Jamaica: Girl
Jones, Thom: Cold Snap
Atwood, Margaret: Death by Landscape
Barth, John: Click
Oates, Joyce Carol: Ghost Girl
Hempel, Amy: In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried
O'Brien, Tim: Th
Jul 27, 2008 Kateragan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this anthology and recommend it to anyone who has half a stomach for short stories. One of my favorite stories is "White Angel," it has phrases like "all velvet motherliness." It is a stunning piece of fiction. I also enjoyed "Silver Water" , "Customs of the Country" , "Brokeback Mountain" , "The Things they Carried" , "In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried" , "Rock Springs" , "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta" , "The Man who Knew Belle Star", "Wild Horses" "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love ...more
Aug 17, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Loved reading a massive collection and being introduced to new authors and read stories that reinforced the ones I already admire. Interesting that while these stories are supposed to cover the 1970s to now that most of these stories were published in the 1990s and 2000s while a few were published in the 1980s and no later. Faves here are the stories by Antonya Nelson, Steve Yarborough, Stacey Richter, Daniel Orozco, Julie Orringer, ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Tim O'Brien (of course), Denis John ...more
Stefani Sanchez
May 07, 2014 Stefani Sanchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been filled with many meaningful (and sometimes not) stories. I have enjoyed sharing the information about the author's, their works, and their possible thought processes as they wrote. I am not sure that anthologies are my favorite, but it has most definitely been an interesting ride. I found a few new favorite authors here, Joyce Carol Oates and Melanie Rae Thon. Nice to read if you are looking for something that will have you wondering what the h@#$!

Katy Wilmotte
Mar 14, 2016 Katy Wilmotte rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Out of the fifty I probably read 15 of these, so perhaps I missed a gem or two, but overall I hated this collection. Literary fiction is not my genre, apparently, as I found most of these stories to be either depressing, creepy, inappropriate, or just boring. And after a few stories they all (to me) started to sound the same. Exceptions were 'The Hermit's Tale' and 'Relief' which I actually rather enjoyed.

Morgan Williams
This isn't a bad collection to have if you want to familiarize yourself with contemporary North American literary fiction. It isn't my favorite by a long way, and it includes some disappointingly mediocre stories. But there are one or two, like Sherman Alexie's This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona, or Kate Braverman's Tall Tales From The Mekong Delta which are worth having the book for.
Apr 07, 2011 Komal rated it it was amazing
I loved this anthology - I love short fiction so this was right up my alley.

Some of these I had already read before and I loved seeing them in this anthology again...the ones I can remember off the top of my head are Barthelme, Diaz, Lahiri, and O'Brien.

I enjoyed seeing Mukherjee and Tan included in here as well.

I think it's great bc it's diverse (it should be it's long!) and really a collection of some of the best pieces out there.
s.m. k.
Jun 11, 2012 s.m. k. rated it really liked it
Several stories by authors with very different styles. I think the diversity of styles is a strength of the book. I bought this book for a creative writing course and have read many (but not all) of the stories in it. Those familiar with the world of short story writing will recognize several names. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading quality short stories or writing them.

I have yet to determine who my favorites are in this format.
May 28, 2008 Saben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We used this book in a writing workshop I attended. While I'm generally not inclined to read short stories so much, this is a great collection of some of the best short stories ever written since 1970. What I like is there are little blurbs about the authors and the stories in the beginning of each story.
Chante Reid
May 15, 2013 Chante Reid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great collection. My favorite stories are "Never Marry Mexican" by Sandra Cisneros (literally might be the best short story I've ever read) and "Xmas, Jamaica Plain" by Melanie Rae Thon. Most of the stories in here are amazing but those two really stand out for me. Oh and how could I forget Junot Diaz's "Nilda"
Juliana Gray
Aug 14, 2011 Juliana Gray rated it it was amazing
Finally! It took me almost five months to plow through this anthology, but it was worth it. I got the anthology as a textbook, and was already familiar with a lot of the more famous stories, but thought I should read all of them. I'm glad I did, because there are some real gems that I'll be adding to future syllabi.
Feb 03, 2011 Barb rated it liked it
When you have an anthology, editors always feel they have to choose types of short stories to represent, instead of the stories that dazzle and stay with you. I read all 50 and can remember about 5, 4 of which I'd read previously. I read a few from the anthology of 100 shorts stories and decided I'm "shorted" out for a while!
Apr 12, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortstories
I liked the concept of this book: short stories selected to show people how to write short stories. The selections by Amy Hempel, Lorrie Moore, Lee Smith, and Susan Sontag were brilliant as usual. My favorite new finds were Customs of the Country, Cold Snap, The Kind of Light that Shines on Texas, Strays, and 1955.
Jan 07, 2013 Cat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable stories.

This anthology has single-handedly restructured how I read and write short fiction. Some of the stories are disturbing, others are hilarious--all are fascinating. Each story is exactly what short fiction should be, an insightful slice of life that may be defamiliarized and bizarre--but always genuine.
Mar 05, 2012 Ben rated it it was amazing
The stories are all worth reading, but I particularly liked:

Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story
The Fireman's Wife
The Disappeared
Twilight of the Superheroes
Winners on the Pass Line
A Temporary Matter
Stone Animals
The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas
The Translation
The Cavemen in the Hedges
Xmas, Jamaica Plain
Nineteen Fifty-five
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover page showing two different covers 6 97 Nov 12, 2013 01:54PM  
stories in this book 1 12 Oct 18, 2008 08:25PM  
  • The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories
  • The Best American Short Stories 2004
  • The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction
  • The Best American Short Stories of the Century
  • The Best American Short Stories 2005
  • The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories
  • The World of the Short Story: A Twentieth Century Collection
  • You've Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe
  • The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction
  • The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction
  • The Best American Short Stories 2003
  • The Best American Short Stories 2010
  • The Best American Short Stories 1998
  • The Best American Short Stories 2006
  • The Best American Short Stories 2002
  • A Kind of Flying: Selected Stories
  • The Best American Short Stories 2009
  • The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012: Including stories by John Berger, Wendell Berry, Anthony Doerr, Lauren Groff, Yi

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