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American Short Story Masterpieces

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  239 ratings  ·  25 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
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 2nd 1989 by Dell (first published March 1st 1987)
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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
Jul 13, 2008 Katie rated it 3 of 5 stars
I've kept this in my bag for almost a year now, picking through it whenever I'm not reading something else.

So far:

"Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin = 6/10
"Weekend" by Anne Beattie = 7/10
"The Bystander" by Gina Berriault = 1/10
"The Amish Farmer" by Vance Bourjaily = 6/10
"1/3, 1/3, 1/3" by Richard Brautigan = 1/10
"Verona: A Young Woman Speaks" by 3/10
"Fever" by Raymond Carver = 4/10
"The Fisherman from Chihuahua" by Evan S. Connell = 6/10
"The Fat Girl" by Andre Dubus = 9/10
"Rock Springs" by Richard
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
"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
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.
At one time, this was my bible of the short story form. One of the best collections out there.
michelle decker
Had to get for a class, but enjoyed it and read all the short stories
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
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

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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Finished about a third of the stories, a while ago. Most of them are very good.
Great primer - I think this one will accompany me to Asia in the spring...
Scott Ansley
Excellent collection of beautiful stories.
I went crazy for a handful of the stories.
Jenks is the master. Read and learn.
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
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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 and ...more
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