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The Best American Short Stories 2014

(The Best American Short Stories)

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,574 ratings  ·  192 reviews
“The literary ‘Oscars’ features twenty outstanding examples of the best of the best in American short stories.” — Shelf Awareness for Readers

The Best American Short Stories 2014 will be selected by national best-selling author Jennifer Egan, who won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for A Visit from the Goon Squad, heralded by
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)
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Glenn Sumi
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I love reading the annual Best American Short Stories anthologies.

They’re a great way to keep up with current writing, see what your favourite authors are up to and discover new ones who are publishing in little magazines and journals.

Inclusion in the book can be a huge boost to a young or emerging writer’s career. I remember reading an interview with the great Raymond Carver in which he said he was so excited with his first BASS publication in the late 1960s that he took the volume to bed with
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Bonnie Brody
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
This collection of short stories has some very good work in it and some stories that were difficult to get through because they were either boring or poorly written. I am not a great fan of Jennifer Egan's writing and, since she is this year's editor, that may be why the collection did not resonate very well with me.

There is one story included that makes the whole book worthwhile. It is entitled 'Long Tom Lookout' and is by Nicole Cullen, a writer new to my radar. There is a lot going on in this
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Karl Bunker
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Best American Short Stories series uses a different guest editor each year, so there's some significant variation from year to year in the sort of stories that are selected for the volume. This year's guest editor was Jennifer Egan, and by my tastes she did a great job, with excellent stories far outweighing the ones I found lacking.

Below are my mini-reviews of all the stories in the anthology.

In "Charity" by Charles Baxter, a gay man doing volunteer work in Ethiopia returns home with a
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Jen
Nov 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
My thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an eARC of this book to read and review.

If this is the best America can offer, we're doomed. Or I have a shot at becoming the best short story writer this country has seen in a year at the least. So yes, we're pretty much doomed.

I made it about 91 pages into this book when I realized that the running theme of the book this year was "let's-see-if-we-can-make-the-reader/s-attempt-suicide". I am not making light of suicide, it is a very sad
...more
Stef Smulders
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I liked earlier collections of this series and discovered some great new voices, but it is clear that the editors of this volume and I do not share the same taste. There are quite a few stories here that I do not care for at all and there is not a single one that I would call excellent.
Jerry
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
A solid collection of short stories, most of which either have no resolution or are utterly depressing, or both. Standouts for me were Nell Freudenberger’s Hover, about a mother going through a period of dissociative episodes; Nicole Cullen’s Long Tom Lookout, about a woman stealing her husband’s child into the Idaho mountains and her own past; and Brendan Mathews’s This Is Not a Love Song, about a shooting-star musician and her friend and photographer.
Corey
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Great collection overall. There were a few baffling choices that I simply don't think belong here--Ferris' "The Breeze," Jhabvala's "The Judge's Will," Molly McNett's "La Pulchra Nota"--but I suppose that's the case with any of these anthologies. My favorites alone, though (Benjamin Nugent's "God," Beattie's "The Indian Uprising" Nicole Cullen's "Long Tom Lookout") make the book worth reading.
Jillwilson
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Along with drinking too much, walking on the beach and teetering along the fault lines of family relationships, reading Best American Short Stories (AKA BASS) is my much-loved Christmas tradition. Every year I kid myself that I will do what at least one reviewer does and read only one story each day – like a gorgeous prolonged literary Advent calendar. But every year I dive into this book and eat it up fast.

So, 2014 – edited by Jennifer Egan, whose book (A Visit from the Goon Squad) was a great
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LATOYA JOVENA
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part this collection grabbed me from the first story and wouldn't let go. I subtracted a star because one story left me completely baffled.
Jack Wolfe
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
The reviews suggesting that this particular volume of the "Best American" series is dark and sad and maybe even (gasp!) depressing are onto something. Death and decay factor into nearly every single story here. And this is a GREAT THING, if you ask me. I doubt this thematic consistency was intentional on Egan's part, though it is clear from her introduction that she is a firm believer in fiction's ability to do important things. In 2014, death is still a very, very hard thing to talk about-- in ...more
Alan
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've read this series long enough to know that the selections are usually going to be very well-written stories by authors performing at their peak form. Often I've followed up by reading a collection of stories by an author with a great story in one of these anthologies but almost every time the one story I encountered in the anthology was far better than the rest in the author's collection. The fun of reading stories like these is that in spite of huge differences in style, characterization, ...more
Tung
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I read a lot of short story collections. For one reason, short story collections are easier to read in short bursts. It always takes me a second to pick up a novel at some random stopping point and remember where in the narrative I am, whereas short stories are self-contained. For another reason, I think it is a real skill to distill a plot and characters into the confines of a short story. My problem with many short story collections is that they tend to be mixed bags – handfuls of outstanding ...more
Eric Anderson
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Short stories are like unwanted orphans. Some lucky ones are published in major periodicals or an author’s collection or win a prize. But even great short stories can appear in a literary review and remain largely unread except by a devout following of readers. They languish in the background waiting to be noticed. Thankfully the Best American Short Stories anthology helps to highlight some stellar examples of story telling every year. This year’s anthology holds particularly impressive examples ...more
Jennifer Hicks
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
My husband has been giving me a copy of this short story anthology for Christmas every year since 1990.(Wow! 25 years of the same gift...we are predictable and faithful to our traditions). It's the book that sits on my bedside table throughout the year. I pick it up and read a story or two when I've just finished a big, meaty novel, but don't feel ready to dive into another. I take it with me on vacations as my "back up read" in case whatever novel I've brought doesn't pan out, and finally I ...more
Sian Griffiths
This year's Best American Short Stories is a fairly solid collection, but I have to admit, it struck me as a little too monoculture. I would have liked to see a greater assortment of stories from non-white authors. I have to admit, too, that I'm getting a bit weary of New York stories about failed relationships, and there is an example of just such a story here. Even when well written, as this one is, they feel far too familiar. Those critiques aside, several stories here rocked my socks.

My
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Clifford
Without having read the collection, I chose it for a fiction workshop I'm teaching this winter. I regret that choice. We'll still learn from reading these stories and discussing them, but I wish there were more stories I'd want my students to emulate.
Geoff
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
These are not saccharine coated formulaic stories.

A while ago I read a talk by Dr Tim Keller about the search for happiness. He said that there are basically three types of people: the (young &) naive who think that happiness is inevitable, the cynics who think that happiness is impossible and those of us who are too busy running the rat race because we think that happiness is just around the corner. Keller says that the cynics are often our best thinkers, our most successful people. This
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Andy Miller
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good collection of diverse stories. My favorites include:

"Charity" starts as a narrative of what happened to Quinn the days before he disappeared, his money and health problems are intertwined and lead to a drug dealer and he is afraid of asking his boyfriend in Seattle for help--the story then shifts to a first person account by the boyfriend who tries to find and help Quinn, the shift in narrative gives different perspectives to both characters--and certainly different relationships with
...more
Rick Schindler
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The 20 stories in this collection range from merely very good to outstanding.
The curating hand of editor Jennifer Egan feels tangible to me, both in the gender balance of writers, which is pretty much 50-50, and a skew toward longer, more experimental writing toward the back of the collection.

If the stories have anything in common, it is their distinct settings. Reading the collection end to end, I got a feeling of travelogue, of visiting a broad range of places, times, and subcultures: a
...more
Anita
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Took a hiatus from reading this series in my early 30s. I didn't agree with the guest editors' tastes-- almost ever-- and I started to wonder if the short story form itself was just not for me, since I definitely prefer the long involved marathon reading of novels and have so much trouble seeing why one story makes the cut for The New Yorker, Paris Review, The Atlantic etc. while another does not. I love Jennifer Egan's taste, however - like me, she seems to love experiment, formal innovation ...more
Louise Aronson
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this anthology - or try to - most years. In my house, I have a long, colorful, if not particularly prominent bookshelf devoted to the series. But some years it's tough to get through...
Not this year. Jennifer Egan, rightly acclaimed for her genre jumping, bending and blending literary short fiction and novels, and this year's guest editor, picked a varied and often surprising group of winners. As she says in her introduction: "If there was a single factor that decided whether a story
...more
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best collections of short stories that I've read in awhile.

If you're famililar with my reviews, you know how often I say, "Like any collection, this has its highs and lows." That is definitely my norm. However, with this collection, something "clicked" with each story for me, and perhaps that was due to Egan's wonderful preface, as she sets this collection up as stories that surprised her. I found this to be true for me, as well.

Each story, while familiar in human-ness and
...more
Colette Fehr
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed by this collection. I love a good short story and thought there were few of those in this year's. Yes, the subject matter of many of the stories was depressing but that wasn't what really bothered me - I felt like some of the stories were just poorly written (amateur hour), in which every sentence felt like an overworked struggle, and the others that were well-written were just not engrossing. At all. However, there were a few standout exceptions for me: Long Tom Lookout, ...more
Nate
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Somehow these books always end up as a slog. I thought it might be a bad sign when I couldn't make it through the guest editor's intro (establish a more rigorous short story aesthetic? really?). And the annual hand-wringing over the state of the short story, the precious magazines that publish them, and technology's affect on the artist. Gag me with a spoon! However, there were some goodies. Peter Cameron's After the Flood was emotionally powerful yet had me laughing my ass off. TC Boyle's story ...more
Alyce
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I do enjoy this collection. Thankfully, there were only 5 stories from the New Yorker so it wasn't as redundant as some years. I just love the contributor's notes at the back of the book- learning the author's impetus for the story adds a dimension that truly enhances the reading experience for me.
If you only skim this book, go right to the back and read two particularly wonderful stories, Karen Russell's "Madame Bovary's Greyhound" and Laura Van Den Berg's "Antarctica".
Mike Fehrenbacher
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Overall, a very solid collection, with a few stories I loved, several that were really good, some that were nice but forgettable, and only one that really irked me.

Favorites:
The Indian Uprising
After the Flood
Medium Tough
La Pulchra Nota
God

Runners-up:
Charity
The Night of the Satellite
A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me
The Judge's Will
Kattekoppen
Mastiff
Next to Nothing
Antarctica
Abby
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another strong short story collection. My favorites were "Hover" by Nell Freudenberger and "This Is Not a Love Song" by Brendan Matthews. I also enjoyed "At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners," by Lauren Groff, "Charity" by Charles Baxter, "After the Flood," by Peter Cameron, "Long Tom Lookout," by Nicole Cullen, "The Judge's Will," by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, "Kattekoppen," by Will Mackin, "God" by Benjamin Nugent, "Mastiff" by Joyce Carol Oates, and "Antarctica" by Laura Van Den Berg.
Tim
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I chose this book for my upcoming sessions at St. Johnsbury Academy in both "AP English Literature and Composition" and "Teaching and Practicing the Art of Fiction" (co-taught with my brother Tom).
Although the landscape of American fiction appears to be pretty dark, there is a lot to recommend these stories. We chose these 6 for special attention: After the Flood, Medium Tough, Hover, The Judge’s Will, Evie M., and La Pulchra Nota. The other stories we will use for special projects.
Fungus Gnat
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Wanting to read some more short stories, I picked up this entry in the annual “Best American” series, chosen mainly because I trusted the sensibilities of the volume editor, Jennifer Egan, on the basis of having read her Visit from the Goon Squad. This book contains 20 stories running from roughly 3 to 10 K words each. It includes a foreword from the series editor, an intro from the volume editor, a list of about a hundred “other distinguished stories” from the year, and a bio note on each ...more
Lada
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Started at the beginning with 'Charity' and was overwhelmed by bad things going worse for the main character. Thought I'd flip to a random page and find something different. 'Long Tom Lookout' was more of the same, main character dealing with an unfair hand dealt to her with no light in sight. Was not brave enough to try a 3rd.
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On Writers vs. Readers 1 8 Sep 29, 2015 02:59AM  

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Jennifer Egan’s 2017 novel, Manhattan Beach, has been awarded the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. She is also the author of The Invisible Circus, a novel which became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz in 2001, Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2001, Emerald City and Other Stories, The ...more

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