John's Reviews > The Best American Short Stories 2012

The Best American Short Stories 2012 by Tom Perrotta
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M_50x66
's review
Jan 04, 13

Read in January, 2013

A 4.5
A few words of intro. This was a great, great batch of stories. One of the best I can remember, and I have been reading these collections for more than 10 years. My grades are even more harsh than normal. In order to get some separation I had to be a tough grader. All of these stories are fantastic and worth the read…..something I don’t always feel every year.

The Last Speaker of the Language – Carol Anshaw - 5
Simply wonderful. Amazing depth of characters in such a short time. Creative, original, charming and deeply touching. Sometimes love is about love for today and maybe tomorrow, and next week or next month can wait.

Pilgrim Life – Taylor Antrim – 4
Dense for a short story and fairly dark. Again a story about what one does for love.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank – Nathan Englander – 5
Wow! It took me a little while to get into the story, but it sure packs a wallop! It tackles some very ugly and messy subjects. It has a classic switch between appearances and reality when comparing/contrasting the two marriages. Maybe a touch formulaic, but the formula works for a reason! And the reference to Gogol gets me every time.

The Other Place - Mary Gaitskill – 4
I have been reflecting lately that the line between someone who commits a heinous act like murder and one who does not is blurrier that most people would like to believe it is. 2012 has been a year about violence, and this story tackles the topic well.

North Country – Roxanne Gay – 3.5
Good, but fails to take it to the next level for me.

Paramour – Jennifer Haigh – 4
Good mix of interesting characters and bizarre, yet believable circumstances and a quirk or two. The ending was a little disappointing, and cliché.

Navigators – Mike Meginnis – 4.5
Video games! Wonderful metaphor of how the game symbolized the life of the father & son. It made me wonder why no one ever has made a game like the one in the book where you steadily lose powers in order to make the game harder. Wonderfully original.

Miracle Polish – Steven Millhauser – 5
So enjoyable. Another great metaphor story. Again a story that follows a familiar short story arch, but wonderfully done. Wouldn’t we all want a magic polish that changes our outlook on life?

Axis – Alice Munro 3.5
Well structured with a flashback taking up most of the story. Highlights the silliness that live is set at 22 or 25. There is plenty of time after that to make your life.

Volcano – Lawrence Osborne – 4.5
Very descriptive and colorful. The story has many locations for a short story, and I felt like I was there at each one. Great use of dreams and awake. Martha is believably desperate and despondent.

Diem Perdidi – Julie Otsuka – 4.5
Sad and very moving. The use of the repeated sentence structure works brilliantly.

Honeydew – Edith Pearlman – 4
I felt like I just missed this story, and maybe I will reread it and try to discover it. I really like the bug tie-ins. Some great comparisons. Great sentence structure as well.

Occupational Hazard – Angela Pneuman – 4.5
Beautifully written and structured. A great look into the lives of a slew of characters, all of whom are struggling, messed up, but seem rich and vibrant.

Beautiful Monsters – Eric Puchner – 3
I didn’t really buy into the characters or their actions. Why did the boy find the man so fascinating? Why did the boys and girls feel such hatred of the men and kill them? An interesting concept, but not a complete realization for me.

Tenth of December – George Saunders – 3
A decent story of a chance meeting, but pedestrian and failed to stand out in any way.

The Sex Lives of African Girls – Taiye Selasi – 5
Brilliant. Brilliant story. Brilliant structure. Brilliant characters, deep and rich. So hard to pick a favorite from the many great stories, but this might be it. Selasi captures a place far, far from anywhere I have been and makes me feel like I am there.
Alive – Sharon Solwitz – 3 I failed to connect with the main character, so I failed to connect with the story.

M&M World Kate Walbert – 3.5
The pace of the story does well to mimic the setting of Time Square. I could not tell if Ginny was supposed to be as flighty as she came across.

What’s Important is Feeling – Adam Wilson – 2.5
A miss for me. Maybe if I had been around the movie biz I might have liked it more.
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