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The Best American Short Stories 2019

(The Best American Short Stories)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  931 ratings  ·  139 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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Fiah I'd have high school or college students reading selected stories from this edition, as several of them have teenage protagonists who might be relatab…moreI'd have high school or college students reading selected stories from this edition, as several of them have teenage protagonists who might be relatable. The first story called Era and the one called Protozoa are suitable for people aged 14+.(less)
Mark Cofta I found it a fun little tale, framed by a more complex thought about how time changes places and people.
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Glenn Sumi
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I've always loved the Best American Short Stories series, but I've only reviewed one of the volumes on here. It's about time I reviewed another.

As I wrote in the earlier review, what I like most about these collections is discovering new authors. That was definitely true this year. Of the 20 authors in this collection, I had only heard of 10 before, and of those 10 I had only read books by 3 of them. So: lots of discoveries, lots of names committed to memory, lots of scanning biographies to take
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 whic
Chris Gager
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On loan from a friend. I've rescued a bunch of these already, but this might be the first I'll have read. One tale per day ...

1 - The Era by Nana Kwame Adej-Brenyah. Very derivative of "Brave New World," but still quite arresting. Beware of the future!

2 - Natural Light by Kathleen Alcott. I'll leave this one to the editor ... "The prose in Kathleen Alcott's haunting 'Natural Light' is always trending away from straightforward clarity toward something more interesting; the central narrative hangs
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is my first year reading the Best American Short Stories, after having gotten more into short stories over the last few years. I am not a fan of multi-author anthologies, finding them impossible to “get into” when each new story is like starting a new book, and that’s particularly true here, where there is no unifying theme. From reading a number of both brief and in-depth reviews of this collection and its stories, I have the sense this year wasn’t the best for this series. Many readers on ...more
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" recal
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notes mostly for myself here, as readers don't need to be encouraged to pick up The Best American Short Stories' annual collection; these collections are a touchstone for those of us who enjoy short stories and you'll either check it out or not.
Proof in point: I read the 2019 volume strictly because of my devotion to Anthony Doerr and was curious about what kind of stories he finds entertaining/intriguing.
I liked the exposure to some legendary authors; Ursula K. Le Guin's "Pity and Shame" was
Robert Wechsler
Two of the stories in this anthology stood out for me. One was Nicole Krauss’s “Seeing Ershadi,” which is characterized by an incredible flow, that is, a structure where the sections jump around in time and place, but seem organic, work without any hitch. I will certainly reread it a few times to see how Krauss constructed it. The other is Ella Martinsen Gorham’s “Protozoa,” a story of eighth graders, the kind of story that, contentwise and stylewise (dialogue that is too realistic, texting, etc ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a good collection. The first story was my favourite, but there were many gems throughout. ...more
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I am amazed at how much story these talented authors can get into a few pages!
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hit or miss, like most of these collections. From awful to mesmerizing, and of course my mesmerizing may be your awful. One thing I look for in these yearly collections is to hear current authors writing about our culture today. There was enough of that here to work for me. Best of the best by Nicole Krauss and Alexis Schaitkin.
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 whil
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 ti
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Highly Opinionated Review--en garde!

When I started working toward a certificate in writing at UCLA Extension, I immediately realized how little American fiction I read. The instructors do not, as a rule, assign translated fiction or even much English language works from the UK or India. It has been interesting re-reading stuff I read in high school, like Flannery O'Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Cheever, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. It has also been interesting reading contemporary short-stories. Regar
Well, that's a wrap! I've officially read (and taken notes on) every story in every guest-edited BASS to date†. That's, what... 857 stories over 5.25 years and 42 volumes? And 106,964 words of notes?! Holy moly. It's truly strange to finally be arriving at the finish line. I just finished the last story a few minutes ago, so the expected feelings—pride, relief, emptiness—haven't really had a chance to emerge yet. Mostly I just feel a little stunned!

Anyway, the 2019 edition. Frankly, anything wou
Marley Richmond
This collection was more or less my first foray into short stories. As can only be expected, there were some that spoke to me and resonated deeply, and some of which I just wasn’t a fan. Editor Anthony Doerr speaks about breaking rules and boundaries in his introduction, and some of the included authors did this with grace, humor, and meaning. Perhaps I’m just not a fan of postmodern fiction, but there were some stories in this collection that broke the rules in ways that were off putting or jus ...more
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
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The first 4 or 5 stories were not enjoyable for me so I skimmed over them. They were not a style or genre I like. The remaining stories were interesting, diverse, and reminded me of why I have always liked reading short stories. I was glad I continued reading as I almost gave up after the initial disappointment in this collection. It's been a few years since I picked up the yearly Great American Short Stories collection. I need to make it an annual read again. ...more
May 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some excellent stories, some that once I finished the whole collection I could no longer remember. Stand outs: The Era (Adjei-Brenyah), The Great Interruption (Berry), The Third Tower (Eisenberg), Anyone Can Do It (Munoz), Natural Disasters (Schaitkin), and Wrong Object (Simpson). The introduction is excellent too.
I don’t think I can rate this one because the collection was so hit or miss, but the Ursula le Guin story (“Pity and Shame”) made the whole thing worth it - gorgeous, Munro-esque characters, then a magical twist
I never expected (had to re-read to see if I’d missed signs).
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.
Kyra Richardson
Only got through 11 of 20 stories and 4 out of the 11 I didn't even finish. I'm all for a short story anthology, just not this one. Maybe the previous years have a better selection.

Also, the only reason I got this book in the first place was for my creative writing class, so...
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stand outs-
“Black Corfu” by Karen Russell
“Natural Light” by Kathleen Alcott
“Hellion” by Julia Elliot
Dave Harmon
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
i only liked 4 of the stories. most of them were just abrupt and pointless, and not in an existential way either. they felt like chapters that had been lifted out of a longer novel. they just sort of end sine ratione.
Tim Love
Here's my penny's worth.

"The Era" by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah - A first-person schoolkid lives in an age where children are encouraged to tell the truth, and gene-therapy is available for those with money. "I don't have any gene corrections. I wasn't optimised at all", he says. "Leslie is always telling lies about how great things are or how nice everyone looks and how everybody is special". He regularly get an injection of Happy from the school nurse.
"Natural Light" by Kathleen
Jun 12, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The Era by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah starts collection off with a bang. Did not expect to get drawn into the Eugenides story, but I was. Touching to see LeGuin here. Am I delusional, or once upon a time did these collections include more "unknown" writers? I would love to see that every year, especially because anthologies like Best New American Voices are gone. ...more
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.
The best stories of this collection were those by Wendell Berry, Deborah Eisenberg, Ursula le Guin, Maria Reva, Karen Russell, Jim Shepard, and Week Wang. Definitely worth reading aloud!
Anup Sinha
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been reading this series since the late 1990’s and most of them have been very good. This one is topnotch for the most part, there were several stories that stuck with me and only a couple I thought didn’t belong. Anthony Doerr put together a nice mixture of stimulating short stories on the human condition.
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
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books
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.
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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

Other books in the series

The Best American Short Stories (1 - 10 of 89 books)
  • The Best Short Stories of 1915, and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best American Short Stories Of 1916: And The Yearbook Of The American Short Story (1917)
  • The Best Short Stories of 1917 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1918 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1919
  • The Best Short Stories of 1920 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1921, and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1922 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1931 And the Yearbook of the American Short Story 1931
  • Best Short Stories: 1932

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