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The Best American Short Stories 2022

por Heidi Pitlor (Editor), Andrew Sean Greer (Editor)

Outros autores: Leslie Blanco (Contribuidor), Yohanca Delgado (Contribuidor), Kim Coleman Foote (Contribuidor), Lauren Groff (Contribuidor), Greg Jackson (Contribuidor)15 mais, Gish Jen (Contribuidor), Claire Luchette (Contribuidor), Elizabeth McCracken (Contribuidor), Alice McDermott (Contribuidor), Kevin Moffett (Contribuidor), Gina Ochsner (Contribuidor), Okwiri Oduor (Contribuidor), Alix Ohlin (Contribuidor), Kenan Orhan (Contribuidor), Karen Russell (Contribuidor), Sanjena Sathian (Contribuidor), Erin Somers (Contribuidor), Héctor Tobar (Contribuidor), Meghan Louise Wagner (Contribuidor), Bryan Washington (Contribuidor)

Séries: The Best American Short Stories (2022)

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A collection of the year's best short stories, selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Sean Greer and series editor Heidi Pitlor. Andrew Sean Greer, "an exceptionally lovely writer, capable of mingling humor with sharp poignancy" (Washington Post), selects twenty stories out of thousands that represent the best examples of the form published the previous year.… (mais)
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Best American Short stories 2022 -- The math says the aggregate is 3.775.

A Ravishing Sun
Leslie Blanco – 2.5 stars
From New Letters
Student work – checks all the boxes for 2022 short stories: a whiff of autofiction; extreme white privilege viewed from the perspective of a Latinx partner (points for the ironic juxtaposition of having a BF with Peter Pan syndrome and also a father scared by his time in Cuba and escape from Cuba in Operation Pedro Pan); a narrator whose clear mental illness makes her unreliable. In fact she careens between going off on BFs supposed irresponsibility (the evidence of this is that he is able to enjoy his life) and letting us know that white BF is actually taking care of everything while she huddles in corners dealing with her trauma (a trauma he also suffered but he is still aware he has things to take care of.) Basically, the narrator is a mess and I felt bad for everyone she came into contact with. If she had some redeeming characteristics, it would have made for a stronger story. I like plenty of autofiction, but the form is better deployed by writers like Claire Vaye Watkins, Karl Ove Knausgard, and Rachel Cusk, all of whom Blanco has clearly read.

The Little Widow from the Capital
Yohanca Delgado – 5-stars
From The Paris Review
Utterly charming while also being a little scary. Loved the character development in this one. Delgado provides exactly the right details so you are there.

Man of the House
Kim Coleman Foote 3.5 stars
From Ecotone
I liked about ¾ of this story a great deal. Foote uses a subtle hand in imbuing the story of Jeb, a New Jersey garbage man, abusive to his wife, children, and partners and generally a spectacular asshole, with the legacies of the Great Migration. I had some issues with the balance – I am not sure why so much time was spent at the beginning on his mother’s house and his detritus/folk art leavings in her yard, and his difficult relationship with his sister – the time in the South and the exploration of Jeb’s relationships with the women and children in his life all worked, but I felt like the beginning belonged to another story. Still totally worthwhile reading

The Wind
Lauren Groff 5-stars
From The New Yorker
I have had mixed feelings about a lot of Groff’s work. On the one hand her writing is beautiful. On the other hand she is cold as ice, recognizing and analyzing the things that make people human, but doing so at a distance so great it can feel like you are in another galaxy. On the one hand she has interesting insights. On the other hand she seems to sort of hate people, she finds the most negative interpretation of every situation and every person. That lack of dimension, that distance, the rejection of the possibility of even a shred of goodness, often makes for really unsatisfying reading in the end. But! Boy did I like this story. Don’t get me wrong. It is bleak. This story of a girl trying to hold her family together while jettisoning her violent father whose presence is a daily threat to her mother’s life. I won’t say more about the events, but it is a heartbreaking story that also has a propulsive storyline in a style more often found in thrillers than in examination of the costs of domestic violence. The whole is engrossing and affecting and unlike any Groff I have read before, it does not maintain too much distance and it maybe even has a (very tiny) shred of hope.

The Hollow
Greg Jackson 3-stars
From The New Yorker
For the most part I enjoyed reading this story of two men who had known each other as boys and who reconnect briefly as adults. That said, I am not quite sure I know why I was reading it, what was the point? Different versions of failed performative masculinity?, Jack went for very conventional indicia of success, but was too big a jerk to make it work, and Valente walked away from the role of popular jock to become a surfer/hipster mashup. Both were a little ridiculous but engaging enough. Valente seemed generally curious about the world but was, as mentioned, ridiculous, and seemed to have no sense of how the world works. He idolizes Van Gogh, who shared those traits and so his future is clearly not bright. Jack was totally self-involved and so he dealt better with the world and was able to get what he wanted. Maybe that was the point? That the worst of us are the ones able to live in this world. The story had lots of intriguing elements that did not seem to gel. Also, I sort of hated the ending.

Detective Dog
Gish Jen 5-stars
From The New Yorker
I hardcore loved this story about racism and cultural norms and the dissonance between keeping our children and ourselves safe and doing what is right. The story is touching and wise and funny and terrifying. I have never read Gish Jen, though I have had 2 of her books on my tbr for some time, but now I will absolutely read more. This story was just great.

Sugar Island
Claire Luchette 2-stars
From Ploughshares

Why? There were elements of humor and pathos in the story set forth well and effectively. “Joan’s love language was gift-giving. Maggie’s was gift-receiving.” Super pithy but in service of what? For me the whole story was a big nothing.

The Souvenir Museum
Elizabeth McCracken 5-stars
From Harper's
Bloody lovely. Filled with wonder and grief and longing, and a gentle but realistic portrait of what it means to be a parent, a daughter a girlfriend and a wife. Also, it is funnier than I can recall McCracken ever being before. Not comic, but wryly and observantly funny.

Alice McDermott 1.5-star
From One Story
Alice McDermott is one of those writers everyone but I seem to love. I am missing something, but I swear I go into every book/story with goodwill.. I sort of hated this story. I don’t know, maybe in 20 years this will constitute an interesting chronicle of Covid times. At this moment though, it basically seems like an uninflected diary of a pretty boring New Yorker in late 2020. It has only been two years since I was a pretty boring New Yorker in 2020 so that offers me nothing. There is literally not one insightful moment here. One sec, it implies Covid makes weed smell bad and I have not heard anyone else mention that. Does that count as insightful? There are passages of beautiful prose but it is just not enough.

Bears Among the Living
Kevin Moffett 5 stars
From McSweeney's
I loved this disjointed and funny look at how losing a father when young changes a boy forever, making him perhaps a different man that he should have been. Does it make that man build a life that looks like others tell him it should even though he only feels trapped? The story comes together from what appears at first to be a series of jokes of the observational deadpan variety but has surprising, bracing, depth and real pathos. It has the writing that makes me gasp in awe, and yet it is totally relatable, and uncomfortably touching.

Soon the Light Gina Ochsner 1-star
From Ploughshares
This was, um, atmospheric. I hated it. A colorless social horror Twilight Zone/Anne of Green Gables mashup that is the world’s dullest examination of good and evil. Also, step away from the symbolism, Gina. I get that the boy is whiter than white (perhaps albino) so that the one indigenous person can announce that white is the color of evil, but it took a lot of work for Gina to get to what I am sure she saw as an excellent zinger.

Mbiu Dash
Okwiri Oduor 5-stars
From Granta
I can’t really talk about this story without spoiling things, but what I can say is that it is about need and longing for connection and structure, and what happens to a person (Mbiu. her mother, and Mr. Man) when structure collapses and community goes down with it. The story speaks to how shifts around us, shifts we have no power to affect, utterly change our lives in ways that drive us mad. Oduor captures the dissonance that comes from following the rules, and then having the rules change. It is that dissonance that drives and perpetuates rape, theft, murder and homelessness. This is set in Kenya, where that happened in dramatic fashion – shifts in government allegiance from USSR to US changed the structure of life in Kenya. The story is, like Kenya, fractured and I thought that really enhanced this story.

The Meeting
Alix Ohlin 4.5 stars
From Virginia Quarterly Review
I work in a field where I am sunk into the startup economy every day. This story reflects well a couple of the most common founder types, and reinforces that the good ones, the ones who are trying to do the right thing, are doomed. I think Ohlin did a good job of showing the costs to everyone in that ecosystem of the ecosystem itself.

The Beyoglu Municipality Waste-Management Orchestra
Kenan Orhan 4.5 stars
From The Paris Review
I found this story captivating. This was the story of a Turk I have never met or read about, a civil servant whose main goal appears to be remaining unseen. Fatima is a garbage collector who winds the alleyways of Istanbul keeping her head down and following the rules. That is until she sees in the garbage at the home of a composer on her route a succession of instruments of every sort. Against all the rules Fatima begins taking these items from the trash (strictly forbidden because it shows a desire for things, which is apparently a bad thing.) Searching for a place to hide this collection she finds a heretofore unseen attic. As she begins squirreling her instruments the attic magically begins to grow to accommodate whatever she finds. And where there is space and materials there will be artists. The rest follows from there. Art and hope as resistance. Its pretty lovely until the state finds a way to crush it and then it is not lovely at all. This feels real and both personal and political.

The Ghost Birds
Karen Russell 2 stars
From The New Yorker
I loved Swamplandia, but I have not loved anything of Karen Russell’s I have read since, and with this that streak continues. Dystopian yadda yadda that reads like hundreds of other novels and stories with a backwash of parenting angst. One other thing that bugged me, Russel crafts lovely sentences, but there was SO MUCH exposition in the story. I am not a hater of exposition, I cringe when people recite that freshman comp maxim, show don’t tell, as if it some universal truth. Some of my favorite books are almost entirely exposition, but here there was so much unnecessary exposition about the place and time where this is set that it brought down the whole.

Mr. Ashok's Monument
Sanjena Sathian 5 stars
From Conjunctions
Well I love me some satire done well, and this qualifies. The utter ridiculousness of the cooptation of the concept of “values” by both government and the 24-hour news cycle is thrown into relief. There are competing goals and actual ethics go out the window. This India set story could not be more universal. Pitch black comedy wrapped in very good storytelling.

Ten Year Affair
Erin Somers 5-stars
From Joyland
Too say this story of simmering passion and escape from the quotidian is relatable for me is a ridiculous understatement. It is just perfect.

The Sins of Others
Héctor Tobar 3-stars
From Zyzzyva
It has long been accepted in China that rich people can hire poor people as “body doubles” to serve their sentences. (I wrote my Senior Thesis on comparative corrections policies between the US and China and though this was not strictly relevant it came up in my research and I was obsessed and read all I could.) So why am I relating this? Well this story is about a man who mows down his wife in a fit of rage, and though he feels bad about that jail does not fit with his plans so he hires a mechanic to do his time. The actual assailant, Karl, appears to be a White American guy, and the man he hires, Juan, is undocumented and Hispanic. In this book's United States such deals are permissible. More things happen to Juan and Karl and their families I am assuming this is a metaphor for Americans hiring undocumented workers to do the shit work no one wants to do and how that leaves breaks down both the oppressed and the oppressors. Honestly, I don’t think I fully understood this story, but it was nonetheless generally engrossing and enjoyable to read so I am going with a 3.

Elephant Seals
Meghan Louise Wagner 3-stars
From Agni
To be fair this is not my type of story. Two people, Paul and Diana, are leading totally different lives in various parallel universes. Essentially this is a futuristic sliding doors setup. In every universe their lives intersect, sometimes happily sometimes less so. What I do not understand is how we know these people are the same people in each universe. The static defining characteristic in each universe are a traumatic childhood event, though certain other events exist in more than one period. Who said one Paul or one Diana is the same as the others? The thing that distinguishes each from the elephant seal is the lack of destiny. I think I understood the story, I think it was lovely to read, but I perhaps don’t wonder about the things the ideal reader for this story wonders about.

Bryan Washington 5-stars
From The New Yorker
This is all about how we keep ourselves safe by keeping others at a distance. Not a surprising choice for someone whose investment in people has not been rewarded in the past. Here it is the MC’s lover and brother who are being kept at a distance mostly though entropy. He and his brother don’t fight, they just “don’t talk.” His lover suggests moving in together, and MC just grunts noncommittally staving off a discussion that would likely flow from saying yes or no. Then the MC ends up fostering a cat for his brother and things begin to change. Pets don’t let you say no to commitment, and once one brick falls others follow. ( )
  Narshkite | Dec 30, 2022 |
The Best American Short Stories, edited this year by Andrew Sean Greer with Heidi Pitlor, is an excellent collection of recent stories.

These types of anthologies are always enjoyable for a couple reasons. One is that there is essentially one perspective choosing the works to be included. While that does not mean the stories are all the same it does usually mean that they will largely be similarly satisfying (whether through style, theme, or other commonality). The other factor working in its favor is that these are not chosen to fill space. By that I mean that a periodical that wants to publish a set number of short fiction pieces per issue has to choose from the submissions they receive. There will be issues when, even with planning ahead, the options are weaker. For this anthology the works have already made the cut at some periodical and even with declining numbers there are enough publications to ensure plenty of quality stories to choose from. Of course, a reader will have favorites and ones that don't work for them, but there is far less fluctuation in this type of anthology.

And sure enough, this is a very satisfying collection. I have a couple of favorites but none that I wish I would have skipped. I like to use books like this (collections of essays or stories) to read when time is short but I want to read something. I was very happy with the way most of the stories here stayed with me when I put the book down and went back to whatever I had to do. These are excellent simply as stories but also as glimpses into who and what we are, how we think (or don't) and how things often aren't as they seem. The ability to generate these kinds of thoughts separate a simple narrative and a moving story.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys the short form as well as those readers looking for collections to fill those short periods when getting back into a novel or nonfiction book isn't ideal.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Oct 17, 2022 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Pitlor, HeidiEditorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Greer, Andrew SeanEditorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Blanco, LeslieContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Delgado, YohancaContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Foote, Kim ColemanContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Groff, LaurenContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Jackson, GregContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Jen, GishContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Luchette, ClaireContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
McCracken, ElizabethContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
McDermott, AliceContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Moffett, KevinContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Ochsner, GinaContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Oduor, OkwiriContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Ohlin, AlixContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Orhan, KenanContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Russell, KarenContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Sathian, SanjenaContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Somers, ErinContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Tobar, HéctorContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Wagner, Meghan LouiseContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Washington, BryanContribuidorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado

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A collection of the year's best short stories, selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Sean Greer and series editor Heidi Pitlor. Andrew Sean Greer, "an exceptionally lovely writer, capable of mingling humor with sharp poignancy" (Washington Post), selects twenty stories out of thousands that represent the best examples of the form published the previous year.

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