Tiny Pants's Reviews > The Best American Short Stories 2008

The Best American Short Stories 2008 by Salman Rushdie
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's review
Dec 26, 2008

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bookshelves: fiction, short-stories, series
Read in March, 2009

Either I'm really procrastinating packing my stuff to move later this week, or this was the best Best American in a few years, because I read this in about three days flat. Yes, it was a bit heavy on the genocide, creepy and manipulative lovers, and cruelty to pets (I know, I'm going to hell for casually tossing off that as a list) but come on people, it's literary fiction, what do you expect. Depressing or not, this was a much stronger collection than 2006 or 2007, possibly the best of the '00s yet (I'd have to comb over my collection to confirm for sure).

On the plus: The two Holocaust stories are among the strongest in the collection (by Rebecca Makkai and Miroslav Penkov, the latter of which was arguably my favorite of them all). The Alice Munro piece was truly outstanding, and is still creeping me out a few days after reading it. The George Saunders story is also again, technically really good, but completely upsetting. (I know, I'm a big wimp.) Because yes, also, the Tobias Wolff story freaked me out, but was great.

On the minus: A.M. (face it lady your name is Amy. AMY.) Homes continues to surprise (according to the author's notes, even herself) with such appallingly disturbing prose that one has to wonder how she even comes up with this stuff. The whole "dark side of suburbia" thing will apparently never get old to her. If I ever meet Homes, I will grab her by the shoulders and shake her while saying, "Some people's lives are simply boring, just admit it!"

Also didn't like the Jonathan Lethem story in the New Yorker, didn't like it now either (2007 was a crap year for short fiction in the New Yorker though). Karen Russell continues to read like literary fiction for hipsters, and I continue to hate it. That said though, none of the weaker stories in this collection were so awful that I had to put it down for days or anything, so overall I feel this was among the better ones.

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