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The Best American Short Stories 2019

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  39 reviews
#1 New York Times best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr brings his“stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) to selecting The Best American Short Stories 2019.
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stories liked:

The Era by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Bronze by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Plan by Sigrid Nunez
Audition by Said Sayrafiezadeh
Natural Disasters by Alexis Schaitkin
Wrong Object by Mona Simpson

The rest of them, I read the first page or so and decided not to finish.

I didn't check thoroughly, but I only noticed one animal being harmed (in one of the stories I skimmed, not one of the ones listed above). I would prefer zero, but this is much better than the O. Henry Prize Stories of 2019, in
Andy Miller
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many reasons I look forward to the annual collection of Best American Short Stories; it helps keep me out of reading ruts of reading the same type of fiction, it introduces me to new writers causing me to order their books(but never on Amazon), updates me on favorite writers. It also reminds me of my dislike certain types of writing; dystopian stories have greatly improved by skimming skills.
Some of my favorites from this year's collection:
Wendell Berry's "The Great Interruption"
Curated by Anthony Doerr (ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE), 2019's shorts were selected with an eye towards breaking the rules of form: multiple protagonists, pages of exposition, ambling subplots, unlikable narrators. In theory it's an exciting approach, yet while none are outright failures many read like style in search of substance. Or where there is substance, the style is less remarkable. My favorites fell into the latter camp, particularly this top five:

"Anyone Can Do It," Manual Munoz -- a
Susan Emmet
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a strong collection.
My favorites:
Maria Reva - "Letter of Apology" - sometimes the inquisitor learns from the targeted
Jeffrey Eugenides - "Bronze" - beauty comes in many guises and may not be so beautiful
Jamel Brinkley - "No More Than A Bubble" - the young fool grows up
Said Sayrafiezadeh - "Audition" - again, the fool grows up, this time with a reduced balance in his account.
Jim Shepard - "Our Day of Grace" - beautiful interlocking stories told in letters from Civil War soldiers and their
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better incarnations of this series. I found the stories by Nicole Krauss and Maria Reva particularly exceptional.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I very much liked several of the early stories in this collection, but then it sort of flat-lined for me, and I had to make myself push through the rest of it.
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-october
I only enjoyed a couple of the short stories out of twenty. I have no idea how these are ranked the best. Clearly the curator has a different reading preference than myself. I know someone has to enjoy this but it was not me.
Karen Carlson
When I wrote my opening post for this year’s volume (the tenth time I've blogged BASS), I admitted I was worried since the bar was set so high by last year’s edition, and the couple of years before. And yes, this year felt like a bit of a letdown. In terms of expectations, maybe it was something like a stock market correction. Still, there’s something to find in all these stories, even though none of them blew my socks off.

What’s interesting is that, while I was a bit meh about many of them
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a delight to have 20 interesting stories nestling side by side – all of which were published in the last year in either an American or Canadian magazine. Despite this provenance, this year’s selection features a wide range of locales and writers of wildly varying backgrounds. If I had to try to find a theme, I’d say that the focus is on the mildly to disturbingly dystopian, though not all stories fit this description at all. The Kirkus reviewer said he/she thought the theme could be “mutual ...more
Amy Armstrong
As a professional writer, I do my best to keep up with short stories in literary magazines and The New Yorker (which is impossible since it's almost weekly.) That said, I like to read the books in this series because these stories are considered the best of the best. Each volume has a guest editor who reviews stories chosen by the series editor. (No, the guest editor doesn't actually read *every* short story published in the U.S./Canadian market before making selections. You can read about this ...more
David Curry
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I saw that Anthony Doerr was the guest editor for this year’s edition of The Best American Short Stories, I was heartened and said to myself that if Doerr’s performance as an editor could come anywhere near the level of his performance as a creator of fiction, I was in for a damned good read.

Well, I have to say that the book includes some unaccountable selections, and since the stories are arranged alphabetically by author, the collection opens unfortunately with one of its weakest
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like 2019 was sortof mediocre when it came to new fiction, and I was underwhelmed with the year's best short stories too. I'm not sure whether it really was a blah year for fiction, or whether I just don't share Anthony Doerr's taste, although some of these stories really stood out to me as exemplary:

"The Era" by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah was as good as it was the first time I read it in Friday Black; "Natural Light" reminded me that I still love Kathleen Alcott and don't understand why
Jim Manis
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The tastes of individual readers may change but gradually over the years, but editorial tastes tend to move in occasional leaps. Or so it seems to me. The last three years of this annual anthology have illustrated this to me. The broadening of the editorial scope has opened the sorts of stories up to a wider range of writers, reflecting the diversity in the English speaking world. While I embrace the enlarged scope, I don't always enjoy it quite as much as I'd hoped. But then I'm old, and we ...more
Gordon Jack
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this collection and look forward to reading it every year. I get to spend time with some of my favorite writers and get introduced to new voices. In this case, it was the unfamiliar writers I was most impressed by. My favorite stories came from Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (probably my favorite in this collection), Jamel Brinkley, Manuel Munoz, Sigrid Nunez, Alexis Schaitkin, and Weike Wang. Of my favorite writers, Jeffrey Eugenides and Mona Simpson's stories are amazing, as usual.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
It was good to enjoy a book of short stories for a change. It reminded me of the books we used to have in reading or English class in school. But, it also suffers the same problem, in that it feels uneven because I am not equally interested in each story. Still, it was a pleasant enough read and a nice reminder that short stories aren’t dead.
Steve Portigal
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an especially excellent selection of stories. Impressionistically feels like the best one I've read. Good range, all very touching, interesting, moving. beautifully written. Something for everyone?
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing like an engrossing short story such as Anyone Can Do It, Natural Disasters, and and Wrong Object in this volume. Sadly, many of the stories guest editor chose struck me as silly or wildly incoherent. Full disclosure: I did not like Doerr's book All the Light We Cannot See.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the huge number of wildly diverse stories in here, and quite a few were excellent. Not many duds at all, tbh, though not enough consistency for me to give five stars.

Highlights were, "Anyone Can Do It", "Pity and Shame", and "Seeing Ershadi".
As with any anthology, a mixed bag--a handful of stories I personally loved, 5 stars, a handful I didn't love, and a few I didn't finish. Definitely worth a look, probably something for anyone who enjoys short stories.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Pretty good collection.

Manueal Munoz: Anyone Can Do It
Alexis Schaitkin: Natural Disasters
Jenn Alandy Trahan: They Told Us Not to Say This
Nicole Krauss: Seeing Ershadi
Weike Wang: Omakase
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I look forward to this collection every year. It's my annual first-book-of-winter-break read. I'm not crazy about his selection of stories, though. I didn't connect emotionally to too many of them.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I liked about 3/20.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the toughest collections to get through that I’ve read this year. Way too much speculative and historical fiction :/ The only story I really enjoyed was “Natural Disasters”
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved last year’s collection, but I only really loved maybe 3-4 stories and there were a few I disliked a lot. 2.5
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unsure if this is my least favorite of the series, but boy were there certainly an incredible amount of duds.
Sharon Jo
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some serious bangers in this anthology. I also enjoyed reading some shorter pieces from fiction authors whose novels I've read and realizing they...have a different side.
Ruth Conrad
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
These selections disappointed me, and I only enjoyed reading five of them.
Catherine Corman
Their problems were immediate, distinct, and resolvable; mine were long-term, existential, and impossible.

-Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, "The Audition"
Christina Gagliano
So disappointing. . .I love Anthony Doerr's short stories and All the Light You Cannot See but he chose some very bizarre, unimpressive short stories as a guest editor for this collection.
Sithara Kumar
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Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble ...more
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