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American Short Story Masterpieces

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4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  267 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
This highly Acclaimed collection of short stories by American writers contains only the best literary art of the past four decades. With a bias toward realism editors Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks have selected fiction that “tells a story”–and tells it with a masterful handling of language, situation, and insight.

But what is so special about this volume is that it mirrors o
...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 2nd 1989 by Dell (first published March 1st 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 620)
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Rachel
Aug 16, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book. I'm sad that it's over. I always forget how much I like short stories, so I don't read enough of them. This was a fun collection because it's filled with 20th-century American stories, most of which I'd never read in an anthology before.

Some that I really enjoyed:
Midair (Frank Conroy)
The Fat Girl (Andre Dubus)
Dream Children (Gail Godwin)
Christian Roomates (John Updike)
A Poetics for Bullies (Stanley Elkin)
Fever (Raymond Carver)
Rock Springs (Richard Ford)

and the one tha
...more
Juliet
Apr 17, 2016 Juliet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Actually, I'm not sure I'll ever be finished reading this -- in a good way. I pick this up when I'm between novels, open randomly and flip until I find a story I haven't read yet and read that. Some of the stories are good and some are phenomenal. The phenomenal ones I've read several times, and I expect I'll read them several times more. Tip top favorites include:

"Sonny's Blues" - James Baldwin - guy picks up his brother from jail after being arrested for heroin
"Walking Out" - David Quammen - k
...more
Jess
Jul 18, 2008 Jess rated it it was amazing
Jenks is the master. Read and learn.
Gerald Hickman
Feb 15, 2016 Gerald Hickman rated it really liked it
Raymond Carver grew up in South Central Washington State. His first short stories concerned the local folks from and around his town near Yakima, WA. One of his critically acclaimed stories is printed in this edition. He is also a poet and several small towns along the Yakima River are very proud of the fact that Raymond is a product of the area.

I recommend that you check out some of his work it has an interesting small town flavor that you will enjoy.
Lon
Oct 25, 2013 Lon rated it really liked it
Of all the great stories in this anthology, it's hard to beat Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find." I'd forgotten how delightful the writing is. Her ability to vivify these characters with so few strokes of the brush is sheer magic. We meet a mother "whose face was as broad and innocent as a cabbage and was tied around with a green head-kerchief that had two points on the top like rabbit's ears." Does it get better than that?

Another favorite is John Gardner's Redemption, for its pat
...more
Jennifer
Jul 17, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
"Masterpieces" sets the bar pretty high, but this anthology has enough variety and quality to merit it, I believe. There's a certain level of macho aesthetic permeating the collection that got a bit wearying after a while (Men Battle the Elements and Confront Death Stoically; Women Face Life with Resignation and/or Nag Men), but that's probably an inescapable result of the time period being sampled from. And some of them are truly luminous--James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" is worth four stars all ...more
Monte Dutton
Aug 20, 2014 Monte Dutton rated it really liked it
The short stories included are breathtakingly beautiful. Some made me laugh. None made me cry, but a few made me sad. Only a few had I read before.
Not that it's breaking news, but "A Good Man Is Hard to Find " is among the best pieces of writing I've digested. It's hard to excel so completely in tragedy and comedy within the confines of one story, however brilliant it may be. "Tragicomic" exists on account of Flannery O'Connor.
htle
Jul 12, 2016 htle marked it as to-read
Every story was so beautifully written, having layers and layers of meaning, which kept me continue to think even when I already finished reading it. I'd prefer not reading the whole book at once, but one story at a time and have some time to reflect before diving into the next one.
Ken
Feb 04, 2014 Ken rated it it was amazing
At one time, this was my bible of the short story form. One of the best collections out there.
michelle decker
Jan 07, 2015 michelle decker rated it liked it
Had to get for a class, but enjoyed it and read all the short stories
Michael
May 01, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
This is a great collection of stories if you are teaching a college or advanced high school English class, or I suppose if you just like well-crafted stories. But the majority are within the "MFA tradition", with exquisite langauge and description and literary devices that bear more weight than the actual story. Don't get me wrong, there aren't any postmodern or experimental head-scratchers, but still, a simple mystery wouldn't have killed anyone.

Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin, and The Lover of
...more
robert
May 02, 2010 robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
masterpieces: baldwin's sonny's blues, conroy's midair, roth's the conversion of the jews, elkin's a poetics for bullies, brautigan's 1/3 1/3
1/3

good: andre dubus' the fat girl, oates' where are you going, where have you been

worthwhile: ann beattie's weekend, richard ford's rock springs, john gardner's redemption, barry hannah's water liars, james salter's akhnilo

mediocre: grace paley's the used boy raisers, tobias woolf's the liar

bad: jayne ann phillips' the heavenly animal
Laurie
Jun 07, 2016 Laurie rated it really liked it
A book of short stories was on my reading challenge this year and this is the one I selected. I would randomly select a story when I was in-between other books I was reading. Several were good stories...others were rather dark and depressing. I must admit that I did not read all of the stories.
Lyuba
Mar 14, 2016 Lyuba rated it really liked it
This review and rating is only for the four short stories I read from the collection:
"Walking Out" by David Quommen
"The Fat Girl" by Andre Dubus
"Where are you going, Where have you been?" by Joyce Carol Oates
and "A good man is hard to find" by Flannery O'Connor.

All four are outstanding - dark and intense, with characters so fully developed in just a few pages. True masterpieces.
ej cullen
Mar 09, 2016 ej cullen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better of its kind. Some good stuff within. A bit odd, however, to have the editor (Ray Carver) include one of his own stories and one from his girlfriend.
Susan
Aug 15, 2010 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
These short stories are great to pass the time. You'll start to learn to appreciate different types of stories, too.

My ratings from what I've read:
(Note: * is what I read in Newark Academy)

*A Good Man Is Hard to Find- 5/5
*A Poetics For Bullies- 3/5
Fat Girl- 2/5
Fever- 2/5
The Story of a Scar- 4/5
*Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been- 5/5
Aragorn
Jun 30, 2015 Aragorn rated it liked it
While many of these stories were clearly standouts in their time, many of them have also aged rather poorly.

Some of the current standouts include:

1/3 1/3 1/3
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Walking Out
Troy Soos
Jan 20, 2011 Troy Soos rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
An excellent collection of modern American short stories, with fresh perspectives and insightful writing. My favorites: Stanley Elkin's "A Poetics for Bullies," Andre Dubus's "The Fat Girl," and John Updike's "The Christian Roommates."
Mackenzie Mackling
Dec 12, 2012 Mackenzie Mackling rated it really liked it
Overall, a solid collection of stories. I read a bit over one third of them for my college English class. My favorites were Walking Out, The Story of a Scar, and Dream Children. I wasn't fond of Rock Springs or The Bystander.
Maria
Dec 29, 2010 Maria rated it really liked it
Favorites: "Sonny's Blues" James Baldwin, "The Liar" Tobias Wolff

Next Favorites: "Midair" Frank Conroy, "The Fat Girl" Andre Dubus, "The Lover of Horses" Tess Gallagher
Holmes
Jun 06, 2012 Holmes rated it liked it
Had to skip almost half of the stories. Guess American short stories aren't my cup of tea. Or is it just poor selection in this anthology? Don't know, don't plan to find out.
Ann M
Aug 28, 2007 Ann M rated it really liked it
Good editors, nice selection of stories, including some authors who are out of fashion, like Vance Bourjaily. Authors are mostly WWII generation with some older Boomers.
Stephen
May 23, 2008 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Probably my most favorite collection of short stories so far. Includes "A Poetics for Bullies"! sigh, a great short story is so rare and sooo awesomely tasty.
vincent
Jun 22, 2010 vincent rated it really liked it
Some really great stories in this volume, there were only a few that I wondered why were included at all. The story Midair in particular was a fancy tickler.
Miao
Jun 17, 2014 Miao rated it it was amazing
Finished about a third of the stories, a while ago. Most of them are very good.
Jennifer
Jan 27, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Great primer - I think this one will accompany me to Asia in the spring...
Scott Ansley
May 14, 2014 Scott Ansley rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection of beautiful stories.
Laura
Aug 23, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
I went crazy for a handful of the stories.
Jonathan
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
Shelves: liturature
Buy a hardcover
Matthew
May 23, 2012 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Classics, all.
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Carver was born into a poverty-stricken family at the tail-end of the Depression. The son of a violent alcoholic, he married at 19, started a series of menial jobs and his own career of 'full-time drinking as a serious pursuit', a career that would eventually kill him. Constantly struggling to support his wife and family, Carver enrolled in a writing programme under author John Gardner in 1958. He ...more
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