THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1978 by Ted with Shannon Ravenel--Eds. Solotaroff


Email this review


Martha Foley, whose domain this was for 36 years, died last year; the editorship will henceforth change with each volume. Ted Solotaroff, late of the American Review, chose this round and offers a rather unusual ""confessions of an editor""-style introduction: 18 intelligent but superfluous pages of explanation, qualification, anxiety. The stories themselves? Rather tepid, single-mooded or single-idea'd pieces by Joyce Carol Oates, Natalie L. M. Petesch. John Gardner, Lynn Sharon Schwartz, Jane Bowles. Two fashionable ""how-to-do-manual-work"" stories by Tim McCarthy and Peter Marsh. (Also two sports stories, about this year's sport: tennis--by Robert T. Sorells and Jonathan Baumbach.) Harold Brodkey offers one of his intense focusings. Elizabeth Cullinan writes a finely measured, subtly straightforward accounting of three being a crowd. A trio of sour sociologies by Ian McEwen, L. Hluchan Sintetos, and Gilbert Sorrentino--and Mark Halprin's ubiquitous mountain-climbing effusion. Seven stories stand out. James Helprin's lucid account of boorishness among chess players; Peter Taylor's sedulous, resonant ""In the Miro District""--a story with an ethical layer few of its companion stories even try for; a rich, portentous, mysterious tapestry by Leslie Epstein of a Holocaust production of Macbeth; Stanley Elkin's risk-taking, virtuoso, but not (for a change) too manic tour of Heaven and Hell. And, finally, three that Chekhov would probably cotton to: poetic, lean, and oddly disturbing stories of the angles in the human heart by Joy Williams, Mary Ann Malinchak Rishel, and (best of all) Max Schott: ""Murphy Jones, Pearblossom, California""--a story so true to itself that it comes off like a secret you always knew you were destined to share.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin