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The Best American Short Stories 2001

(The Best American Short Stories)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,043 ratings  ·  67 reviews
This year’s Best American Short Stories is edited by the critically acclaimed and best-selling author Barbara Kingsolver, whose latest book is Prodigal Summer. Kingsolver’s selections for The Best American Short Stories 2001 showcase a wide variety of new voices and masters, such as Alice Munro, Rick Moody, Dorothy West, and John Updike. “Reading these stories was both a d ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 10th 2001 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I kept this book in the car for the last year. I'd read it at stop lights or when waiting to pick up carryout or any place/time I had the opportunity. Quality collection. Some of my favorites (w/ links to the ones I could find online so you can read'em yourself):
- "Servants of the Map" by Andrea Barrett
- "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town" by Ha Jin
- "Boys" by Rick Moody
- "The Raft" by Peter Orner
- "The Secrets of Bats" by Jess Row
- "Nobody Listens When I Talk" by Annette Sanford
- "The Apple Tre
Jan 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
I was delighted to see a shelf of these at the library and zeroed in on the Kingsolver edition. Short stories feel so new to me that the idea of seeing how people of literary merit judge them is incredibly appealing. The author section in the back that tells the inspiration for the story is also great.

I'm embarrassed to be rating this one star. I feel like I must be the problem here, not the stories chosen. And I don't know if perhaps I don't like the style of stories these were culled from or K
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
The best of the stories here began and ended the collection: “Servants of the Map” by Andrea Barrett, and “My Baby” by Dorothy West. The latter was written in 1938, if I’m reading it correctly, but made it into this volume because the author wrote a lot, some of which is still being published; this was published in The Connecticut Review in 2000.

Reading the introduction after the stories, it appears they were chosen not so much for whether they were good stories as to whether and what they taugh
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Terrific collection of short stories, with a lovely introduction by editor/author Barbara Kingsolver.

My favourite stories in this collection were:

Servants of the Map by Andrea Barrett - A British cartgrapher, mapping the Himalayas, writes to his wife of his outward travels while the reader follows his inner journey.

Rug Weaver by Barbara Klein Moss - An Iranian rug weaver muses about the magical carpet designs he wove in his head to keep him sane while a prisoner of the Revolution. His son's beau
Ben Siems
Oct 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Like most lovers of literature, I have some discomfort with the title of this series. Literature and rankings seem rather incompatible, after all.

But whether the stories in Best American Short Stories are indeed the best of that year is of no great consequence. They are certainly very good. I have, over the years, grabbed three different editions from this series (1988, 1991, and 2001) at used bookstores, and I must say, I enjoy them immensely. I would highly recommend to everyone to track down
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Maybe I finished all these stories a year or two before, but I re-read several over the last few days. Some of the stories in this collection are on my all-time favorites list, if I were going to edit a volume called The Best of The Best American Short Stories. "The Secrets of Bats" by Jess Row, "Labors of the Heart" by Claire Davis. Then there are others that are favorites in this book: "Nobody Listens When I Talk" by Annette Sanford, "The Apple Tree" by Trevanian -- which is a hysterically fun ...more
Ann Douglas
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was an exceptionally good volume of short stories. (This series if published annually.)

Highlights included

"Boys" by Rick Moody
"Nobody Listens When I Talk" by Annette Stanford
"The Apple Tree" by Trevanian
"My Baby..." by Dorothy West

Here is a wonderfully mischievous quote from "The Apple Tree":

"Short first pregnancies do not occasion criticism in our valley, for it is widely known that the good Lord often makes first pregnancies mercifully brief as His reward to the girl for having preserve
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm reading such an "old" book because I found it cheap, used. I buy most of my books used to save money. This one is worth looking up for a story within by Claire Davis, called Labors of the Heart, which made me cry. And then read it again. It's so good I wanted to call my mom late at night and read the whole thing to her over the phone!! There are other fantastic stories within, particularly Boys by Rick Moody (also a 5-star story, incredibly well-written), Betty Hutton by Roy Parvin, My Mothe ...more
Brandy Hawkins
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't think I've read a single short story by Barbara Kingsolver. I've read two of her novels, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I don't think she's ever published a collection of short fiction. I don't know if she's published any short fiction. You don't have to write short stories to be able to enjoy them or even to know whether or not they're any good, but there's still a little voice in the back of my mind that protests someone judging a genre they haven't practiced.

The Best America
John Turner
I love short story collections and have since I was about 10 or 12-years old, brief and tightly written entertainment. For 50-plus years, ever since I was a pre-teen, I have settled down my day by reading for an hour or so, in bed, just before going to sleep. I find it relaxes me, puts the trials of the day at rest and clears my mind. I discovered "The Best American . . ." series about thirty years ago -- the best sports writing, the best science writing, the best traveling writing, etc, and my ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my continuing quest to read each book in this annual publication going backwards about ten years. I became a fan of short stories a few years ago when I happened on one of these collections at a used book sale.
As I am making my way, I realize that I will need to schedule enough time to read an entire story at a time and that I shouldn’t go immediately from one story to the next. Reading a story in more than one setting seems to lose its impact. I also need to take a little time to absor
Math Yoda
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I liked Boys by Rick Moody, The raft by Peter Orner, Nobody listens when I talk by Annette Sanford, The Apple Tree by Trevanian, My Baby by Dorothy West but most of all: My Mother's Garden by Katherine Shonk.
What I didn't like were mostly the long ones (They were super dragging for me):
Servants of the Map
Post and Beam and
Betty Hutton (I did not really understand the story because I think this was the longest and I read it in separate days because I was busy, In the last pages of this story, I LI
William Lee
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a different book, but it was my second time reading a book that has many short stories in. Since I'm not a big fan of reading a long story with complex settings/stages, it was much easier for me to understand each story. The content of each story tells why the title of this book is named "The Best American Short Stories". Stories contain emotions that all of us have. Hatred, love, disappointment, sudden joy of one thing, sorrow, and joyfulness. I hope some stories' emotions can be relata ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
If you only have limited time to read, these are great short stories that are from a variety of well known authors.
Ruth Conrad
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked the story by Alice Munro.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Some wonderful short stories In this collection but some that aren’t.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
My favorites were: Labors of the Heart, Post & Beam, The Secrets of Bats, The Fireman, and especially My mother's Garden.
I also liked: Betty Hutton, and What I Saw From Where I Stood.
Linda Johnson
Jun 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I wish I could give it less than one star. So boring!
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Reading this excellent collection of short stories edited by Barbara Kingsolver has made me feel as if I just ate way too much. I am uncomfortably overfull with words and characters and stories. They are swimming around in my head, and I am a little afraid that I will forget them all too soon. We eat too much and wonder how we could ever eat another meal, and then all too soon, we are doing it again. I will pick up a new book soon and I'm a little sad that this one will fade away. Digested.

It t
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I decided to check out this book after reading Barbara Kingsolver's collection of essays, Small Wonder. She wonders why more time-pressed Americans don't read short stories. I decided to take the challenge and peruse these stories chosen by Kingsolver as the best of 2001. While I enjoyed them, I couldn't finish them. I really liked "Labors of the Heart." That was the only one where I really felt the writer explored (or exposed) the characters in depth. The main reason I read fiction is the emoti ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Taken as a whole, this was the very definition of a typical BASS collection—one or two great stories, several good, several mediocre, and one or two clunkers. However, reading it story by story, it felt somewhat lopsided, with only Updike really managing to impress me as I made my way through the back half. The perils of sticking with alphabetical order, I guess.

My favorites, in rough order of preference:
* Peter Ho Davies - "Think of England"
* Elizabeth Graver - "The Mourning Door"
* Ha Jin - "Af
My absolute favorite story was the short five pager, "Boys" by Rick Moody. I read it out loud to Jessica in the car, and am sure to read it again before the book finds it way onto the shelf.
The story hits home for this father who looks at his two boys and sees time rushing forward fast and yet back again.

Other Stories of Honorable Mention:
Andrea Barrett's "Servants of the Map" - this is the second story of Ms. Barrett's I have run across this year. I must find more.
Peter Ho Davies "Think of Engl
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My favorites from this volume include “The Apple Tree,” by Trevanian (a new author to me, although he died ten years ago), which reads like a fable, and “Servants of the Map,” by Andrea Barrett, featuring a surveyor in the Himalayas writing home to his wife, that is as much about what he doesn’t tell her as what he does. But there so much good writing here – “Brothers and Sisters Around the World,” by Andrea Lee, “After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town,” by Ha Jin, “Think of England,” by Peter Ho Dav ...more
Richard Jespers
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Again the editor really affects the choice of stories. Didn’t like as many of these as I did in 2000.


Andrea Barrett's "Servants of the Map," an extremely detailed story, epistolary in nature, almost by necessity: a husband and wife are separated by an expedition of space and time.

Ha Jin's "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town." This story stayed with me for a while.

Rich Moody's "Boys." He creates a great compression of time and employs an effective use of repetition (anaphora).

John Updik
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This took me almost a year to get through, but I enjoyed it. Some of these "Best American Short Stories of ..." collections are more appealing to me than others. It must be because of the editor, there is a different editor every year, and they choose what stories go into the collection. I liked this one better than others that I've read. If you are trying to decide what year's collection to read, I'd recommend this one.
Roxanne Russell
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
All in all I didn't enjoy this collection as much as I enjoyed 2000's. However, "Rug Weaver" by Barbara Klein Moss may be one of the best stories I've ever read. The protagonist is an Iranian Jewish rug dealer who begins mentally rug weaving as a coping mechanism during imprisonment. This story is juxtaposed with his present day life as the stiff "father-in-law" in his son's young marital home in California. Truly rich and fascinating story.
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I was reading a Barbara Kingsolver book in which she mentioned working on this, she was reading thousands of short stories just to pick the best for 2001. I put it on my to read list and was glad I did. It was wonderful! I will now have to compare the other years of short story collections with various guest editors.
David Rosen
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
best story in this collection is the unforgettable, mesmerizing "The Secrets of Bats" which (i believe) first appeared in Ploughshares. By Jess Row If I were to rate this story on its own- it would get a(n unhesitant) 5! I'd love to read a review of this story by a blind person (if i keep blabbing- I'll give the game away ;) ...more
Connor Smith
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For some reason, the stories seemed to get better as the book went on. Somewhere after halfway, it seemed to be one good story after another. But interestingly, the stories appear to be in alphabetical order by author's last name.

This volume has earned my 5 star seal of approval because of the conspicuous number of stories included that I rather liked.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great collection, and I found that the introduction (by Barbara Kingsolver) was an especially good one. It was hard to pick, but my five favorites were "Brothers and Sisters Around the World" by Andrea Lee, "Boys" by Rick Moody, "My Mother's Garden" by Katherine Shonk, "What I Saw from Where I Stood" by Marisa Silver, and "The Apple Tree" by Trevanian.
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Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, ...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
  • 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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