Michael's Reviews > The Best American Short Stories 2008

The Best American Short Stories 2008 by Salman Rushdie
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's review
Jan 28, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in January, 2009

What I like most about this collection is the variety. There are some insanely dark stories, and some happier stories, some rigidly realistic stories, and some fantastical stories. I think this shows the wide variety that good writing comes in and challenges the rigid genre boundaries that I hate, but that everyone seems compelled to impose on quality fiction. As far as I'm concerned, a good story is a good story and this year's anthology has plenty of those. Some notables include "The Year of Silence," by Kevin Brokmeier, "The Worst You Ever Feel" by Rebecca Makkai, "Vampires in the Lemon Grove," by Karen Russell, and "Puppy," by George Saunders.
I can't help but feel a little put off by Bradford Tice's story, "Missionaries," about Mormon missionaries, because I spent two years of my life as a Mormon missionaries. I'm not naive enough to say that there are no missionaries like the ones he describes, but I find it a little audastic of him to write about them when he isn't even a member of the church. I think the only people who really understands what it's like to be a Mormon missionaries are those who have been Mormon missionaries. I don't care how many of them he talked to. But really, it doesn't feel like he's trying to portray the experience of a missionary, but that he is just using Mormon missionaries to make his point. I feel uncomfortable about that, but I am biased. I guess if there is every going to be anything of substance written about what missionary life is really like I'll have to do it myself.
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Flynn You might want to try and find a copy of the short story "Keep it Bible" by Ryan McIlvain in the Spring 2008 issue of The Paris Review. It's another story about Mormon missionaries but I think it was written by a young man who had actually been on a Mormon mission in South America (can't remember where). I thought it was an excellent read. Somehow I remember I found a free scanned pdf of it somewhere, maybe the author's website. Anyway, just thought I'd pass that along.

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