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The Best American Short Stories 2010

(The Best American Short Stories)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,457 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Edited by the award-winning, best-selling author Richard Russo, this year’s collection boasts a satisfying “chorus of twenty stories that are by turns playful, ironic, somber, and meditative” (Wall Street Journal). With the masterful Russo picking the best of the best, America’s oldest and best-selling story anthology is sure to be of “enduring quality” (Chicago Tribune) t ...more
Paperback, 421 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Mariner Books (first published 2010)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  1,457 ratings  ·  192 reviews

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A.C. Collins
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book. All the rules I've been studying, all the presumed intelligentsia and invisible gatekeepers I've been cowering under have been pushed aside, fictionalized, for what I've learned from these stories. Established writers and emerging writers alike are represented in this annual collection of short fiction, each with a quick contributor bio and first account on how and why said story came to be. Here lies the lesson. Several of the authors - established at that - confessed said ...more
Ben Loory
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Always a weird experience reading a BASS anthology: so many solid stories, and yet such narrow bandwidth. It's like 20 stories all written by people who pretty much share exactly the same idea of what a short story can/should be. Hope you like realism, 'cause that's what you're getting! Nevertheless: good stories!

"Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events" by Kevin Moffett (bad title but great story!)
"The Cowboy Tango" by Maggie Shipstead (left me sobbing)
"The Hollow" by James Lasdun
Michael Griswold
May 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
The Best American Short Stories series is for better or worse directed towards a certain type of reader. The stories contained in the 2010 collection skew decisively towards those readers who enjoy literary fiction over genre based fiction. By the same hand, I can’t say that readers of literary fiction will fall head over heels in love with this collection either. As a reader, I personally am looking for an emotional experience that sticks with me, even after I’ve put the book aside and most of ...more
Ally Armistead
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I always look forward, every year, to the latest edition of The Best American Short Stories. It is the mother load of all anthologies, the place to be, the Oscars for the literary short form, the hub of emerging stars and infamous masters.

In this edition, Richard Russo has done, overall, a marvelous job of selecting truly gripping stories, ones that stick with you, gnaw at you long after you've read them. Most of the selections are truly stellar, with the top two stories--"Cowboy Tango," by Mar
Tiny Pants
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Oh gosh, I finished this so long ago I'm no longer sure of the date! Why did I leave this loose end for so long? Because there was one story in it that gripped me so strongly I told my husband "You have got to read this." In characteristic (his reading tastes are different than mine) yet uncharacteristic (he often takes my suggestions as demands) fashion, he never got around to it, but now that I am home to the two boxes of books I shipped from Texas to California (thanks, Half-Price Books!), I ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Some of my favorites:

"My Last Attempt to Explain What Happened with the Lion Tamer" - My favorite. It's told in second person which is so hard to do well. It's about a clown in a traveling circus who falls in love with the new trapeze artist, who has an affair with the lion tamer. A laugh-out-loud love triangle that is superbly written.

"Painted Ocean, Painted Ship" - My next favorite. A beautiful, successful college professor and her ridiculous self-doubt and inability to be happy with her life
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this book up from the library because a friend of mine loved Richard Russo's Empire Falls, and I figured reading his selection of 2010's best American stories would give me an idea of his sensibilities. Well, he's a bit of a downer.

Which isn't to say he chose poorly. Many of the stories here are powerful and captivating - I'd flip the pages and suddenly find myself at the end, hungering for more. It's only detriment is that many of the stories present sad situations that only dig themse
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Truly outstanding collection - one of the best ever. The book begins with one sotry about a psychiatrist who loses a poker game to a former patient, another about a deaf girl who meets a photographer who felt guilty about how his father abused his deaf mother, and a third about two cousins – a younger one who loved animals but had no money and an older one who became a lawyer but never found love in his life like the younger one. There is a sotry (Safari) by Jennifer Egan, who just won the Pulit ...more
Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A hit or miss collection, but there were a number of 5's that just blew me away, including:

Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched
Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go
Delicate Edible Birds
Painted Ocean, Painted Ship
Further Interpretation of Real-Life Events
All Boy

There were a few other good ones, but the rest were fairly disappointing.

I appreciated reading a story about a soldier returning from war (Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go) that wasn't overly sentimental and didn't
Rebecca Makkai
Aug 14, 2011 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I'm going to refrain from assigning any stars to a collection I was fortunate enough to be a part of; and although there were so many amazing stories by writers I'd never encountered before (and some old favorites), it would probably be impolitic to list those without commenting on every single other story in the collection... So I won't do any of that. What I WOULD like to do is take an informal survey.

For those of you who've read Maggie Shipstead's amazing story "The Cowboy Tango": If someone
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this book on-and-off from spring of 2011 to fall of 2012, nearly two full years. I skipped about eight or so stories because I didn't like the first pages, but the other 250-ish pages were well-read. Half of these stories are puffed-up ramblings from over-educated toolbags who got their Masters in English and are trying way too hard. My point is, some feels soulless, or in the best case scenario, some tales feel like the medium and form of the "short story" is more the message; how it was ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this series...short stories are awesome. And these short stories are always incredible - so different from one another and so amazingly well-written.

I especially loved:
My last attempt to explain to you what happened with the lion tamer - Brendan Matthews
All boy - Lori Ostlund
The Netherland lives with water - Jim Shepard
Raw water - Wells Tower

One of my favorite parts of this series is the section of Contributors' Notes at the back of the book. There is a (very) brief bio of each writer, a
Jeridel Banks
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I thought this collection would be worth the read, but it really wasn't. Some stories are OK. They can pull you in, but some stories crumble halfway through. After I read the first story, Steve Almond's "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched", I thought the stories would get better, but they didn't, except for a few. Two stories I really liked was "The Laugh" by Tea Obreht and "The Cowboy Tango" by Maggie Shipstead. One story I particularly disliked (and ended up skipping) was Jim Shepard's "The Ne ...more
Eleanor Saltzman
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great collection this year. My favorites, in no real order: "The Cowboy Tango" by Maggie Shipstead, "Painted Ocean, Painted Ship" by Rebecca Makkai, "All Boy" by Lori Ostlund. I was really disappointed by the Wells Tower story. I heard nothing but great stuff about him, and then the story was really overwritten. Also, it's too bad they had two different futuristic world-gets-flooded stories in close proximity. They were my two least favorites. But overall the best collection in a few years, my ...more
Arja Salafranca
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Best American series, for those unfamiliar with the series, consists of a range of stories published in US and Canadian journals from the previous year. About a hundred of these are then read and selected by the guest editor, and, in this year’s case, Richard Russo did the choosing, selecting a final list of 20 stories, now collected in this volume.

I found the stories in this volume exceptionally compelling and readable – with many being of the über-length variety, running to many pages, wi
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is the first collection of Best American Short Stories that I have read, and I was pretty disappointed. I really enjoyed some of the stories, specifically "The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach" by Karen Russell and "The Cowboy Tango" by Maggie Shipstead. Some of the stories in this collection do have heart, but the majority lack originality, vision, and even authenticity. Maybe it's a problem with the editor of this edition, but it does not make me feel very optimistic about the state ...more
Carmen Petaccio
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Five Favorites:
1. The Valetudinarian by Joshua Ferris
2. Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff
3. My Last Attempt to Explain to You What Happened with the Lion Tamer by Brendan Mathews
4. Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events by Kevin Moffet
5. The Ascent by Ron Rash
Hester Rathbone
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: home
I adore the Best American Short Stories series. The short story is a difficult form, and I have such respect for writers who can carry it off. The short story is basically the middle child of writing. Longer than the poem, which can contain a flash of brilliance or insight and stand on its own, but shorter than the novel which can create a backstory and layers of conflict and self-discovery that the characters must work through. At it's worst, the short story can be perfectly awful - boring or s ...more
Brad Hodges
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
When it comes to short stories, I have a particular like. I tend to enjoy stories that are funny, and that have a plot arc. Those stories that are meditative and in which not much happens don't do much for me.

As one would imagine, the latest volume of Best American Short Stories (a series that goes back over thirty years) has some stories that I thought were wonderful and some that I thought were ho-hum, and one that I could not make heads or tails of. I give guest editor Richard Russo credit fo
Paul Cockeram
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
One standout story in this collection is Steve Almond's "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched," a tale of modern-day hubris focused through the fashionable lenses of poker and therapy. Another story of our cultural moment comes in "Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go," in which Danielle Evans processes the war in Iraq and the inevitable damage to its soldiers and their families. I like the voice of that piece a lot--its frantic, cynical bewilderment over how to give our dear ones what ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay guys,

It's seven in the morning in the land of the midnight sun. I cannot
sleep so here are my musings on "The Best American Short Stories:
2010" edited by Richard Russo that I have just finished.

This collection is by definition eclectic. I found it annoying. It is
somehow difficult to switch between different styles, personalities of
authors, their approaches to telling a story. It feels, pardon the
term, promiscuous.

The language of all stories is precise, polished and beautiful. I am
jealous. Mo
Rhonda Browning White
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I had an assignment to read four stories from this collection, but I couldn't stop there. Russo has done a great job of picking twenty powerful short stories from the hundred (or is it two hundred?) screened for him by Pitlor, who purportedly reads them all.

It would be difficult to narrow these stories down to my favorites, but the ones I most loved, I suppose, are the ones that I can recall off the top of my head, as the characters really stuck with me. Lauren Groff's "Delicate Edible Birds" r
D Fisher
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just the introduction about Isaac Bashevis Singer is worth the price of the book. One way or another I enjoyed all twenty stories, but my least favorites were McSweeney's futuristic experimental stories, which both started off promising but went on too long and fell flat at certain crucial points.
Some of my favorites were:
Safari by Jennifer Egan: Excellent writing, the sudden leaps into the future were so well done.
Someone ought to tell her by Danielle Evans: But the characters, whom I later
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a really, really great edition of Best American Short Stories. I think the highest hit-to-miss ratio of any collection I've read recently. Of special note were the following:
- The Cousins: the older I get, the more time I spend thinking about frayed connections. We're always actively growing more distant from our past and leaving friends and relatives behind. I thought this story was a nice reminder of that fact and how hard it is to get back in touch.
- Delicate Edible Birds:
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, 2010
Another excellent collection! (And this year's Foreword is well worth reading.) So now it's time for everyone's favorite game - which did you like most? For me, Lauren Groff's "Delicate Edible Birds" was in a class by itself, a perfect story. Looking forward to her books.

My other favorites were Steve Almond's "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched," Marlin Barton's "Into Silence," Lori Ostlund's "All Boy," Ron Rash's "The Ascent," Jim Shepherd's "The Netherlands Lives Under Water" and Maggie Ships
~ Cheryl ~
This is a book I dipped into over the course of several months when I was between novels. When I finish reading a full-length novel (and especially when I've enjoyed it), I'm reluctant to dive right into another lengthy story. Yet, I am a fiction addict. So a short story collection fits the bill.

Not every story was a winner, but that's why we slog through these collections -- for the stand-outs. And stand-outs there were.

Some of my favorites which made the book worth the price of admission:

Hayden Trenholm
Dec 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Like most collections, this was a mixed bag. There were a couple, I simply didn't finish, but most were pretty solid literary efforts with a few trying their hand at literary genre (mystery or SF)with usually less that stellar results. Many were moving though they tended to be on the depressing side; a few were laugh out loud funny. Steve Almond's "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punished" opens the book very strongly but was followed by one of the stories I couldn't finish. Not a great beginning -- ...more
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This year's - wait, last year's - Best American Short Stories is a great collection. It's not that some years are bad; it's that the editor's picks don't jibe with my sensibilities, tastes or whatever those things are that make me like one order of sentences and choice of words over another.

There are no weak link stories in this collection. I could name the ones I liked least, but I they're still good stories; I will say that Ron Rash's 'Ascent', Maggie Shipstead's 'The Cowboy Tango' and Brenda
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I'd been wanting to jump on these collections since I realised they existed about 6 months ago now, but with not knowing where to start, and some quiet mixed reviews of previous years on here, I decided to wait for the 2010 edition, and Mr. Russo hasn't disappointed with this cracking collection. I'm not really one for review writing so I won't go into details about each story, but out of the twenty here, only two could I class anywhere near not having enjoyed all that much, which is a much bett ...more
Andy Miller
Dec 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Richard Russo was the guest editor this year and I think his selection of stories is the best of the last few years. Safari by Jennifer Egan was great, especially the end which updated the character's lives in the twenty years after the events of the safari. I also especially liked "Least Resistance", a story about an auto mechanic who entered the lives of a couple who lost a baby to SIDS,"Painted Ocean, Painted Ship" about a college teacher who becomes involved in a controversy that eventually ...more
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RICHARD RUSSO is the author of seven previous novels; two collections of stories; and Elsewhere, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody’s Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries.

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“I had something like a revelation: why did we keep making new art, and so much of it so bad, when we were surrounded by work that needed only the proper context to shine?” 0 likes
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