Ally Armistead's Reviews > 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker

20 Under 40 by Deborah Treisman
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's review
Apr 09, 11

Read from March 22 to April 07, 2011

Overall, a solid collection of voices "under 40." Most fascinating was the introduction by editor Deborah Treisman who explains her reasoning for an age-specific collection: "What we noticed while reading the works of close to a hundred and fifty novelists and short-story writers in this age group, however, was that, for many of them, there had come a point where things seemed to fall into place: the voice was suddenly distinct; the influences less blatant, more absorbed; the plotting more skillful; the emotional thrust stronger; the humor sharper. For some people, this happened in s a second book, for some in a third, for some lucky writers earlier. But, in most cases, it happened when the writer was somewhere in his or her mid-thirties."

The stories range in voice and style and subject, everything from a quirky old man's love to a woman desperate for acceptance to the fantastical world of sunken ships and creatures beneath the sea. If you think of a narrative voice as a color, this collection offers a spectrum of shades, each distilled and uniquely its own.

My favorite among all of these was "Birdsong" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie--absolutely beautiful voice, control of language, rich in heart and soul. A deceptively simply story of loving a married man. Other favorites include "Second Lives" by Daniel Alarcon and "An Honest Exit" by Dinaw Mengestu.

A recommended read for all fiction writers.

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