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The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: Fifty North American Stories Since 1970

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,034 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Selected from a survey of more than 200 English professors, award-winning short-story writers, novelists, and fiction workshop directors, a remarkable collection of North American literature written since 1970.


This is what it means to say Phoenix, Arizona by Sherman Alexie
Death by landscape by Margaret Atwood
Raymond's run by Toni Cade Bambara
Sarah Cole : a type of
Paperback, 672 pages
Published December 6th 1999 by Touchstone Books (first published 1999)
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4.15  · 
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 ·  1,034 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
I had to read this for class :) Definitely recommend checking it out if you're looking to get into short stories! I'd say my favorites were, "The Fireman's Wife" by Richard Bausch, "Silver Water" by Amy Bloom, "The Ceiling" by Kevin Brockmeier, "After Rosa Parks" by Janet Desaulniers, "Territory" by David Leavitt, "The Kind of Light that Shines of Texas" by Reginald McKnight, "Orientation" by Daniel Orozco, "Pilgrims" by Julie Orringer, "Brownies" by ZZ Packer, "Sea Oak" by George Saunders, "Ton ...more
Anna Groover
Note: I'm reading this anthology for a creative writing class I'm taking this semester. I'm marking it as read so I can keep updating my review of it as I read more stories out of it. Feel free to follow me along on this adventure.

Donald Barthelme,“The School”(19)

Wacky story about a classroom where things keep dying. Weird but charming. Not entirely sure what I'm supposed to take away from the ending. (4/5)

Jamaica Kincaid,“Girl”(319)

I always enjoy pieces like "Girl." It's a sort of treatise on w
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers and students of fiction writing
This is the second edition, which I'm going to be teaching from. Except for a few of the same stories from the last version, this is a totally different book!


I didn't read through the first edition quite so exhaustively as I did with this second edition, so it's unfair of me to say which one is better. I didn't like all the stories in this book, but many of them ask some interesting questions regarding structure, character, point of view--that is, they're useful for teaching, and learning.

Jacqueline West
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this on one of those bargain racks at Waldenbooks, and man, was it worth the $4.99. For a collection this large, the quality is consistently excellent, and almost all of the modern masters of the short story are represented: Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, Sherman Alexie, etc. It would have been well worth the price just for the sake of Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain," Richard Bausch's "The Man Who Knew Belle Starr," and Reginald McKnight's "The Kind of ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is probably the best deal I've ever gotten. One book, fifty stories by fifty writers. While none of the stories in here blew me away, all of them are very good and they are a good introduction to a lot of great writers that I hope to read more from. I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants an easy way to be exposed to a lot of good writing.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of these stories were fantastic. This is not only a collection of entertaining stories but also a collection of instructive stories. I will definitely refer back to this volume often. There were a few duds in my opinion, so I'm curious to know why those stories were selected for the anthology.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-fun
50 short stories. I couldn't get through two of them. However, there were four that were so beautifully written they made my heart ache. I plan on using several of them in the classroom for my students. Two things were great about this book: the fact I didn't stay up until 3am reading and I have a slew of other books I want/need to read written by some of these authors.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
Thank you for depressing me over and over again.
Jeff Lanter
This is a pretty strong collection of short stories, some of which I had already read in various fiction workshops. It is impossible to collect the best works or to satisfy every reader, but I felt like this collection tries to get a lot of different authors both culturally and aesthetically. I thought the beginning and middle stories were stronger than the last third for whatever reason. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be The Caretaker. It is hands down one of the most powerful st ...more
My advanced fiction class used this as a textbook in college; we read various selections and discussed them in class when we weren't work-shopping our peers' stories. As a new writer just beginning to get serious about writing, this collection offered a variety of stories told in different styles that helped me understand individual writers' voices. Though short, these stories are complex; each time I read one, I draw something new from it, something that I overlooked on previous readings.

Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
As with any collection like this, you will love some and there will be others that you don't care for nearly as much.

Unfortunately, there are some in the beginning (it's set up alphabetically by author) that I've forgotten about. So the ones I do remember from the beginning were quite memorable (obviously) and I'll include those in what I think are the 5-star stories (though I've probably missed some as well):

John Barth's "Click," Donald Barthelme's "The School," Raymond Carver's "Errand," Juno
Liz Mourant
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This anthology, at the halfway mark, has already surpassed my expectations held out for a prime cut of anthologized meat! Inside my book, I felt the need to distinguish the very best of stories with underliner and checks as they were stellar examples of craft. Yet, nearly every story inside this book is a winner and a delight to feast one's imagination and desires for fulfilling fiction within. Joyous, but not wholly from joy...often from dailiness, sorrowing, and variegated jousts with the stuf ...more
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes after reading too many novels I find a short-story collection to be just the break I need. I'm always looking for hidden treasures no matter what I read. When there is such a variety of authors and writing styles I know I'm bound to find some real gems. I gave four or five stars to ten of these fifty stories. (That's 10% as compared 38% of fiction and nonfiction books. At least I know I can finish a short story without thinking afterwards that I've wasted a whole lot of time.) My favor ...more
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short story fans
A great collection of short stories. My only complaint is that i'd read many of the short-stories previously. I can't say i love every story in this collection. This is quite the eclectic group of stories and one out of three stories is incredible.

Some of my favorites in the book:
Richard, Mark: Strays
Kincaid, Jamaica: Girl
Jones, Thom: Cold Snap
Atwood, Margaret: Death by Landscape
Barth, John: Click
Oates, Joyce Carol: Ghost Girl
Hempel, Amy: In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried
O'Brien, Tim: Th
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the better short story anthologies I've read (still have the Oxford and Ecco anthology left). Starts off incredibly strong, meanders for a bit, gets interesting again, then boring, then great, then really great, and then finishes strong. So, your typical anthology.

Absolute favorites:

"Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story," Russel Banks
"The Hermit's Story," Rick Bass
"The Fireman's Wife," Richard Bausch
"The Disappeared," Charles Baxter
"The Caretaker," Anthony Doerr
"Communist," Richard
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love this anthology and recommend it to anyone who has half a stomach for short stories. One of my favorite stories is "White Angel," it has phrases like "all velvet motherliness." It is a stunning piece of fiction. I also enjoyed "Silver Water" , "Customs of the Country" , "Brokeback Mountain" , "The Things they Carried" , "In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried" , "Rock Springs" , "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta" , "The Man who Knew Belle Star", "Wild Horses" "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love ...more
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved reading a massive collection and being introduced to new authors and read stories that reinforced the ones I already admire. Interesting that while these stories are supposed to cover the 1970s to now that most of these stories were published in the 1990s and 2000s while a few were published in the 1980s and no later. Faves here are the stories by Antonya Nelson, Steve Yarborough, Stacey Richter, Daniel Orozco, Julie Orringer, ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Tim O'Brien (of course), Denis John ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Read several of the stories a few years ago, then the bulk of them recently. From my notes and imperfect memory, these were standouts for me:
- "The School" by Donald Barthelme
- "Never Marry a Mexican" by Sandra Cisneros
- "Car Crash While Hitchhiking" by Denis Johnson
- "A Temporary Matter" by Jhumpa Lahiri
- "Stone Animals" by Kelly Link
- "The Translation" by Joyce Carol Oates
- "Pilgrims" by Julie Orringer
- "Sea Oak" by George Saunders

About 34% female protagonists, 54% male, and 12% multiple/other
Stefani Sanchez
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been filled with many meaningful (and sometimes not) stories. I have enjoyed sharing the information about the author's, their works, and their possible thought processes as they wrote. I am not sure that anthologies are my favorite, but it has most definitely been an interesting ride. I found a few new favorite authors here, Joyce Carol Oates and Melanie Rae Thon. Nice to read if you are looking for something that will have you wondering what the h@#$!

Katy Wilmotte
Mar 14, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Out of the fifty I probably read 15 of these, so perhaps I missed a gem or two, but overall I hated this collection. Literary fiction is not my genre, apparently, as I found most of these stories to be either depressing, creepy, inappropriate, or just boring. And after a few stories they all (to me) started to sound the same. Exceptions were 'The Hermit's Tale' and 'Relief' which I actually rather enjoyed.

Morgan Williams
Apr 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: literaryfiction
This isn't a bad collection to have if you want to familiarize yourself with contemporary North American literary fiction. It isn't my favorite by a long way, and it includes some disappointingly mediocre stories. But there are one or two, like Sherman Alexie's This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona, or Kate Braverman's Tall Tales From The Mekong Delta which are worth having the book for.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this anthology - I love short fiction so this was right up my alley.

Some of these I had already read before and I loved seeing them in this anthology again...the ones I can remember off the top of my head are Barthelme, Diaz, Lahiri, and O'Brien.

I enjoyed seeing Mukherjee and Tan included in here as well.

I think it's great bc it's diverse (it should be it's long!) and really a collection of some of the best pieces out there.
Adiva Abdulkar
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leisure, favorites
I love this anthology and I always will. My professor had us get this for my first university creative writing class and I felt compelled to buy a copy for myself once the class was over. It's full of great stories that showcase excellent writing skills as well as intriguing themes/metaphors and unique characters. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys writing contemporary stories.
Marketta Sowers
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of short stories of literary fiction. Some stories where hard to follow or simply boring, but most where fantastic examples of great short fiction. Perfect for when you need a short read every once in awhile!
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most of the them are gems to me. Needed some time to read them all, best taken slowly.
Emily Gong
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
My bookshelf companion since high school. Great memories of high school contemporary fiction class - some of my favorite homework and general reading.
Nicola Waldron
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I use this book to teach fiction. Every story is just amazing -- shows how vivid is the human imagination: such variety.
Cassidy Queerface
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I mean, it's a collection of 50 short stories, so I didn't love all of them. I'd say I loved quite a few of the stories, though, so it gets a 4 out of 5 from me.
Monique S.
I read this book for school.
Used this in an Olli discussion group lead by Paula Watson - wonderful!
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