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The Best American Short Stories 2003 (The Best American Short Stories)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  448 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Best-selling author Walter Mosley has selected the year's top fiction from voices well-known and new. Here several authors bring their stories to vivid life for a banner audio edition.
Audio CD, 1 page
Published November 4th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published September 12th 2003)
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I rarely read short story collections but read this as it was a book club choice. I believe I will get this title each year it is printed. I enjoyed the short reading time each night as well as enjoying the diversity of the stories. The book discussion was good because we all had differing opinions about each story. Almost every story was either "weird" or "bizarre" but in a good and entertaining way.
The Best American Short Stories 2003 deserves its 5 star rating. Here are three stories that reason why.


Set in the future when androids, which are robots that have an entirely human appearance, can be bought, sold, and upgraded at the hospital, a husband is caught in a dilemma that concerns his son, and must make a life changing choice.
The conflict between characters is dynamic; no character remains static. The setting is beautiful, “…the ground open
Lacey Louwagie
So, seeing as these are "the best" American short stories of 2003, I don't really feel right about dissing any of them. Because even the ones that I didn't like, I could trust the compilers of this collection enough to know they were still quality stories. I liked the diversity of voices, although it felt a little token-ish (here's a story about a Native American, here's a story about a Chinese-American, here's a story about an African American . . .). A few of my thoughts on specific stories:

I can't understand the people in these stories, and the ones I did understand had nothing remarkable said about them. What is the point of reading about messed-up people who never start to make sense or be explained beyond what we already understand? If there are deeper meanings in these stories, I can't find them. The authors know to end the stories with some tie back to the beginning. But if that factor has no real significance, the story is still pointless. Where are the morals? Where is the ...more
E L Doctorow's "Baby Wilson" is my favorite of the collection. It is amusing and absurd. Karen and the narrator are a regular Bonnie and Clyde, but family-style.

Mona Simpson's "Coins" is an engaging view of wealthy Beverly Hills from the perspective of a Filipino babysitter.

Jess Row's "Heaven Lake" is a saddening story from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant living in the frightening New York of the early 1990s.

"Shamengwa" is a Native American story that takes place in the realm of magic re
Several great stories in this edition, but two mysteriously took me in, both a nod to science fiction. The first was about a hundred year old mechanical doll and a maturing adolescent boy in New Orleans, let's just say the doll does more than moves her head. The other - a futuristic domestic tale about a married couple's struggling relationship and how to best deal with their failing android son. Should they upgrade the chip in their son's model and sacrifice his personality? Other stories I was ...more
Richard Jespers
ZZ Packer is so great.

So are Nicole Krauss, Anthony Doerr, E.L. Doctorow (“Baby Wilson”), Edwidge Danticat, Dorothy Allison (her story “sad” but not sloppy).
Krystl Louwagie
I almost feel like you had to be an older women to be interested in these stories. All but 2 were about kids and babies, blech. Most of them were slow moving and boring and too real life. Which I'm living, I don't need to read (listen) about it.
I think the only story I found remotely interesting was one about a reservation and a fiddle that traveled through it and the stories it was involved in. Other than that, I found almost all of them to either be annoying or completely boring (most of them
Always a treat reading these! I get excited when they come out.
Although the second half of the book is forgettable and awful, the first half is mostly solid. The best stories are "Kavita through Glass," "Ghost Knife," and "Moriya." ZZ Packer and Mary Yukari's stories were pretty good as well. Many reviews claimed that "The Shell Collector" was the best story in the book, but I actually found it boring and laborious. Many stories were dull including Adam Haslett's Kevin Brockmeier's and Dorothy Allison's. I appreciated Walter Mosley's agenda, and a few stori ...more
Ten years down the road, this edition of "Best American Short Stories" turns out to be an especially good collection, full of stories that reach toward the fantastical and the unfamiliar without sacrificing their humanity. The book includes Anthony Doerr's virtuosic story "The Shell Collector," along with Louise Erdrich's "Shamengwa" and Kevin Brockmeier's "Space" -- now one of my all-time favorite stories.
CV Rick
This is an excellent collection - one of the best of the series. Several of the stories really stood out:

Baby Wilson by E.L. Doctorow
Shamengwa by Louise Erdrich
Space by Kevin Brockmeier
Heaven Lake by Jess Row
Coins by Mona Simpson

These are some of the best short stories around. The collection is noted for its clear, unique voices, simple ideas, and well-crafted narratives.
I could tell that this selection had been edited by a man. True, there are women writers, but the voice as a whole is violent, aggressive and depressing. 2002 must have been a sad year if these were the "best" short stories. The subject matter of most weren't my cup of tea either. Perhaps the wrong book to read in the summer.
Some pretty good stories in here, but not one of the better collections I've read. I liked (no particular order) "Kavita Through Glass" by Emily Ishem Raboteau, "Moriya" by Dean Paschal, "Future Emergencies" by Nicole Krauss, "Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down" by Ryan Harty, and "The Bees" by Dan Chaon best.
I’ve never been one for short stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. I kind of like the way that these stories are snapshots into the lives of characters I might not otherwise see. The writing was superb and all the tales were engaging.
All good stories. I think I liked the ones in the 2008 collection a little better -- they stick more in my mind, at least. But again, completely worth it if only for the contributors' notes in the back, explaining how the story came about.
I really enjoyed this volume. All of the stories were compelling and kept me reading to the end. There was a lot of variety in the stories...among different cultures and races. Probably one of the best volumes of the series.
I love short stories and I continue to enjoy these collections. I always pick them up 3-4 years after they are published, at least, but I think they're still worth reading, which says something about their quality.
Adam picked this up at a used book sale at the library. They are the perfect length to read a story on my commute. So I always enjoy them. Some stories in this one are a little creepy, but overall pretty good.
The latest of this annual series (published since 1915) provides an annual collection of carefully selected recently-published short fiction and nonfiction stories. This year's volume was a great read. (lj)
read with Book group on a wonderful weekend get-a-way....we all read some stories in common...hung But I don't remember any single story!
What is the criteria for "The Best" short stories?
The O.Henry winner stories were much more interesting and they still not claim as the best.
Monica Madaus
I particularly liked Z.Z. Packer's story "Every Tongue Shall Confess," and Emily Ishem Raboteau's "Kavita Through Glass".
David Rosen
not nearly as strong as some of the other years- 2001 for example (containing the ever-memorable "Secrets of Bats" by Jess Row
What an amazing range of short stories. Fiction is where it's at. And Mosley picked some of the best.
Holly Interlandi
Dean Paschal's 'Moriya' saved this sucker from one star. Such a gem in such a sea of... crud.
The only story worth reading in this anthology is THE SHELL COLLECTOR by Anthony Doerr.
The Best American Short Stories 2003 (The Best American Series) by Walter Mosley (2003)
Kylie Briggs
There were some good stories in here, but I'm not sure it was really worth the time.
I love this series...great, quick reads.
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Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numero ...more
More about Walter Mosley...

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“These short stories are vast structures existing mostly in the subconscious of our cultural history. They will live with the reader long after the words have been translated into ideas and dreams. That's because a good short story crosses the borders of our nations and our prejudices and our beliefs. A good short story asks a question that can't be answered in simple terms. And even if we come up with some understanding, years later, while glancing out of a window, the story still has the potential to return, to alter right there in our mind and change everything.” 7 likes
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