THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1992
Stone, in an agreeably short, scholarly, assured preface, makes note that nine of the twenty choices here come from The New Yorker because "while The New Yorker is still able to attract first-rate submissions, the days are past when there was such a thing as a 'New Yorker story.'" He also notes that his choices "reflect what is probably the most significant development in late-twentieth-century American fiction, the renewal and revitalization of the realist mode....As of 1992, American writers seem ready to accept traditional forms without self-consciousness in dealing with the complexity of the world around them." Both assertions, given the quality of the stories included here, seem plausible if a tad sweeping and optimistic. The highlights--Alice Munro's remarkably synoptic, world-in-a-glass "Carried Away"; Mavis Gallant's intimist accretion of details, "Across the Bridge"; Thom Jones's remarkable war story, "The Pugilist at Rest"; and Denis Johnson's coruscating "Emergency"--all come from one magazine but bear no stylistic gene in common save excellence. And Stone has also picked quite good stories by Alice Adams, Joyce Carol Oates, and Tobias Woolf--stories in which known-quantity writers seem to surprise themselves, as well as us, with supple swerves of voice and angle. Thomas Beller's "A Different Kind of Imperfection"--a young man coming to grips with his father's ghost in the form of words underlined in one of the father's books--is a fine introduction to this young, meditative writer; as is Amy Bloom's "Silver Water," a clear call to pay attention. A better-than-usual collection.