Jakon Hays's Reviews > The Best American Short Stories 1986

The Best American Short Stories 1986 by Raymond Carver
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Dec 22, 2011

it was amazing

Goodbye to the Best American Stories 1986

Some numbers –

To read and report on these stories it took me 5 months and 1 day.

That also works out to:

22 weeks


154 days


110 weekdays.

While we are looking at numbers, I’ll dial it back a bit and see where we are with this little BASS project.

My first post dropped on:

May 29th 2008.

That was –

3 years 3 months and 4 days ago. I can’t even begin to tell you how my life has changed since then.

1191 days. Pffffffff….long sigh.

How many of these volumes have I read and reported on in 3 years, 3 months and 4 days?


Some more numbers? Well, it looks like I spent about 4.3 months per volume. To be more exact, 132.33 days per volume.

I think it goes without saying that I need to speed things up.

Let me now discuss my thoughts on this volume.

The introduction can be found here:


If you haven’t read the intro – please do, I’m actually proud of that post!

Here are a few words from that introduction.

I highlighted this from Carver’s intro:

“Stories from the New Yorker predominated, and that is as it should be. The New Yorker not only publishes good stories – on occasion wonderful stories – but, by virtue of the fact that they publish every week, fifty-two weeks a year, they bring out more fiction than any other magazine in the country.”

Well, I have discovered a new love for The New Yorker and that love has partially been the reason why I have failed to read stories from this volume. I’ve been too distracted by that magazine AND with working on a database that already existed AND attempting to buy, and eventually succeeding in buying a nice 3 volume set of collected short stories from that magazine.

There were 20 stories in this volume – 3 were from the New Yorker. See previous indexes from past BASS collections and you’ll see the NY’er dominating the collected stories!

Carver goes on to say

“One of the things I feel strongly about is that while short stories often tell us things we don’t know anything about – and this is good, of course – they should also, and maybe more importantly, tell us what everybody knows but what nobody is talking about. At least not publicly. Except for the short story writers.”

Yes – perfect. I’d say there were more than a couple of stories in this collection that did just that. They told us what everybody know but what nobody is /was talking about. The stories were wonderful – the majority of his selections.


“I deliberately tried to pick stories that rendered, in a more or less straightforward manner, what it’s like out there. I wanted the stories I selected to throw some light on what it is that makes us and keeps us, often against great odds, recognizably human.”

I mentioned in several of my posts the above quote. Carver succeeded.

So how do I feel about Carver’s collection?

Well, I feel that I did the volume a disservice. I took too long to read it and I didn’t fully commit my heart and mind to the project. I gave about 50%.

That, in short, is unsatisfactory.

Therefore, I do not feel I can faithfully pass judgment on this collection. The milk has been spilled, no need to cry. Let’s clean it up and pour another glass.


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