Salman Rushdie selects the best 20 stories of the year.
Alice Munro offers a chilling tale, “Child’s Play,” of two young girls who drown a fellow camper while away for the summer, an act which drives the fast friends apart. In T.C. Boyle’s “Admiral,” a college graduate returns to her high-school dogsitting job only to find that the dog is not quite the same as when she’d left it. Rather, the owners have cloned him, which leaves the lonely narrator in a quandary when she is wooed by a handsome young animal-rights activist. With “Galatea,” Karen Brown enters the mind of a young woman who has unknowingly become seduced by, and quickly marries, a small-town stalker who takes pleasure in entering the homes of young women. Allegra Goodman’s tragedy “Closely Held” is quieter, chronicling the slow demise of both the dreams and the relationship of a brilliant computer programmer. And Kevin Brockmeier, departing from realism, wonders what would happen if the world suddenly became silent (“The Year of Silence”). Perhaps the most harrowing story comes from A.M. Homes. In “May We Be Forgiven,” the vitriolic relationship between two aging brothers becomes explosive after a tragic accident. When the brother responsible for the accident returns home from a mental hospital, he finds his sibling in a compromising position and lashes out.
A bleak but brilliant collection.