Steve's Reviews > The Best American Short Stories 2011

The Best American Short Stories 2011 by Geraldine Brooks
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's review
Jun 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, short-stories
Read in June, 2012

This wonderful series is always a mixed bag by its nature, but kudos to the editors for always including a variety so there is something for every taste. That must be a challenge. There wasn't much to flat-out love here, but this year it was easy to see the talent and excellence in just about every selection.

My favorite was Claire Keegan's "Foster," an exceptional story that shows one of the best reasons to read this series - learning about great new voices. Keegan is clearly yet another in a long line of excellent Irish writers, and I can't wait to hunt down more by her. It was head and shoulders over the rest for me.

Sam Lipsyte's "The Dungeon Master" is an entertaining standout that helps keep the collection/series from being too earnest and stuffy.

Ehud Havazelet's "Gurov in Manhttan" is a triumph of narrative voice.

I also vote for Richard Powers's "To the Measures Fall," a passionate paean to book-love that is sure to be underrated and misunderstood.

The stories by Nathan Englander, Elizabeth McCracken, and George Saunders were also quite strong.

Sorry, but I thought the Nuila story was undercooked. It left me asking, Huh? The Bergman and Goodman stories had some nifty ideas but didn't quite convince. The Bissell and Row stories seemed more intellectually/politically well-meaning than convincing. And I've enjoyed Makkai well enough, but four in a row is quite enough. Are you really doing her a favor at this point? Time to give someone else the spotlight. There are a lot of new names in that list of other notables. And Egan won the Pulitzer for Goon Squad: was it really a good idea to include another story from that one? Defensible, of course. All the selections were. It's easy to nitpick, much harder to choose 20 that will please the crowd. Looking forward to next year!
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