About this item
In her introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2011, Geraldine Brooks draws the comparison between a well-told joke and a good short story. She writes, Each form relies on suggestion and economy. Characters have to be drawn in a few deft strokes. There s generally a setup, a reveal, a reversal, and a release . . . In the joke and in the short story, the beginning and end are precisely anchored tent poles, and what lies between must pull so taut it twangs.
The twenty tightly crafted stories collected here are full of deftly drawn characters, universal truths, and often, like good jokes, surprising humor. Richard Powers s To the Measures Fall is a comic meditation on the uses of literature in the course of a life. In the satirical The Sleep, Caitlin Horrocks puts her fictional prairie town to bed the inhabitants hibernate through the long winter as a form of escape while in Steve Millhauser s imagined town the citizens are visited by ghostlike apparitions in The Phantoms. Allegra Goodman s spare but beautiful La Vita Nuova finds a jilted fiancee letting her art class paint all over her wedding dress as a poignant act of release. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wryly captures the social change in the air in Lagos, Nigeria, in her story of a wealthy young man who is not entirely at ease with what his life has become.
As Brooks pursued these richly imagined and varied landscapes she found that it was like walking into the best kind of party, where you can hole up in a corner with old friends for a while, then launch out among interesting strangers.