THE WORLD OF THE SHORT STORY: A Twentieth Century Collection by Clifton--Ed. Fadiman

THE WORLD OF THE SHORT STORY: A Twentieth Century Collection

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A fair warning: in his Foreward, Fadiman acknowledges that a reader of this book may well ""not like some or perhaps any of the selections. But. . .to prescribe precisely what the contents should have been, is hardly useful. Better that he become an anthologist himself."" Still, what true reviewer listens to fair warnings? Here are 62 stories (""from sixteen countries"") that are ""intended not for theoreticians or historians of the short story but for the curious, intelligent reader."" Again, fair enough; one pleads only: ""More curiosity! More life!"" Fadiman explains the absence of Erskine Caldwell, Walter de la Mare, and Sherwood Anderson on the very clear grounds that they don't ""still speak to us with the urgency that once animated [their voices]."" Does that mean that ""The Egg"" isn't still very much alive and kicking? Mann, Dinesen, and Conrad are excused because, says Fadiman, they (or two of them) wrote novellas, not stories (but what of ""An Outpost of Progress,"" short, darkly comic, and impassioned?). Oddly, the master Joyce remains absent without expressed cause. As for what remains, there is much of it. But ""My Old Man,"" talky and loose, can't really be as remarkable as any half dozen others of Hemingway's, can it? And while ""My First Goose"" is fine of Babel, can ""Babylon Revisited,"" conventional Fitzgerald, be up to the wonder of, say, ""Absolution""? Is ""The Vertical Ladder"" really Sansom's most interesting: ""The Artificial Nigger"" Flannery O'Connor's; or Barthelme's dreary and simple ""Game"" within leagues of ""The Glass Mountain"" or ""Views of My Father Weeping""? Indefatigable, overwhelmingly vast in his reading, kindly, and ineluctably plain: Fadiman provides a volume of stories from Beerbohm to Kafka to Quiroga to Bowen, from Mishima to Boyle to Trevor, from Singer to Updike to Beattie. What to do? With a mild, familiar, and faintly weary sigh, lift it up and place it upon the shelf.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1986
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin