The Best American Short Stories 2014

BestAmericanSSThe Best American Short Stories 2014
Edited by Jennifer Egan

“The literary Oscars features twenty outstanding examples of the best of the best in American short stories.” –Shelf Awareness for Readers

The Best American Short Stories 2014 will be selected by national best-selling author Jennifer Egan, who won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for A Visit from the Goon Squad, heralded by TIME magazine as “a new classic of American fiction.” Egan “possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart” (New York Times Book Review).

The UnAmericans

UnAmericansStories by Molly Antopol

An absentee father, a former dissident from communist-era Prague, needles his adult daughter for details about her newly commissioned play when he fears it will cast him in an unflattering light. An actor, imprisoned during the Red Scare for playing up his communist leanings to get a part with a leftist film director, is shamed by his act when he reunites with his precocious young son. An Israeli soldier, forced to defend a settlement filled with American religious families, still pines for a chance to discover the United States for himself. A young Israeli journalist, left unemployed after America’s most recent economic crash, questions her life path when she begins dating a middle-aged widower still in mourning for his wife. And in the book’s final story, a tour de force spanning three continents and three generations of women, a young American and her Israeli husband are forced to reconsider their marriage after the death of her dissident art-collecting grandmother.

Again and again, Molly Antopol’s deeply sympathetic characters struggle for footing in an uncertain world, hounded by forces beyond their control. Their voices are intimate and powerful and they resonate with searing beauty. Antopol is a superb young talent, and The UnAmericans will long be remembered for its wit, humanity, and heart.

Snapper

SnapperBy Brian Kimberling

A great, hilarious new voice in fiction: the poignant, all-too-human recollections of an affable bird researcher in the Indiana backwater as he goes through a disastrous yet heartening love affair with the place and its people.

Nathan Lochmueller studies birds, earning just enough money to live on. He drives a glitter-festooned truck, the “Gypsy Moth,” and he is in love with Lola, a woman so free-spirited and mysterious she can break a man’s heart with a sigh or a shrug. Around them swirls a remarkable cast of characters: the proprietor of Fast Eddie’s Burgers & Beer, the genius behind “Thong Thursdays”; Uncle Dart, a Texan who brings his swagger to Indiana with profound and nearly devastating results; a snapping turtle with a taste for thumbs; a German shepherd who howls backup vocals; and the very charismatic state of Indiana itself. And at the center of it all is Nathan, creeping through the forest to observe the birds he loves and coming to terms with the accidental turns his life has taken.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Vampires In the Lemon GroveBy Karen Russell

From the author of the New York Times best seller Swamplandia! – a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize – a magical new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell’s gifts at their inimitable best.

A dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull’s nest. A community of girls held captive in a silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms, spinning delicate threads from their own bellies, and escape by seizing the means of production for their own revolutionary ends. A massage therapist discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the tattoos on a war veteran’s lower torso. When a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow bearing an uncanny resemblance to the missing classmate they used to torment, an ordinary tale of high school bullying becomes a sinister fantasy of guilt and atonement. In a family’s disastrous quest for land in the American West, the monster is the human hunger for acquisition, and the victim is all we hold dear. And in the collection’s marvelous title story – an unforgettable parable of addiction and appetite, mortal terror and mortal love – two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try helplessly to slake their thirst for blood.

Karen Russell is one of today’s most celebrated and vital writers – honored in The New Yorker‘s list of the twenty best writers under the age of forty, Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists, and the National Book Foundation’s five best writers under the age of thirty-five. Her wondrous new work displays a young writer of superlative originality and invention coming into the full range and scale of her powers.

Astray

By Emma Donoghue

The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue’s stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.

With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of “Room” takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times.

I Am an Executioner: Love Stories

By Rajesh Parameswaran

An explosive fiction debut from an astonishing new voice: darkly funny, wildly original stories about the power of love, and the love of power – two urgent human desires that inevitably, and often calamitously, intertwine.

The unforgettable opener, “The Infamous Bengal Ming,” is narrated by a misunderstood tiger whose affection for his keeper goes horribly awry. In “Demons,” a woman tries to celebrate Thanksgiving after the sudden death of her husband, even though his corpse is still sprawled on their living-room floor. In “The Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan,” an ex-CompUSA employee sets up a medical practice in a suburban strip mall armed only with textbooks from the local library and fake business cards. The heroes—and anti-heroes—of I Am An Executioner include a railroad manager in a turn-of-the-century Indian village, the newlywed executioner of the title, and an elephant writing her autobiography – the creations of a riotous, singular imagination that promises to dazzle the universe of American fiction.

Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories

Birds of a Lesser Paradise coverBy Megan Mayhew Bergman

From a prizewinning young writer whose stories have been anthologized in “The Best American Short Stories” and “New Stories from the South” comes a heartwarming and hugely appealing debut collection that explores the way our choices and relationships are shaped by the menace and beauty of the natural world.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick coverBy Chris Van Allsburg and Lemony Snicket

An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of bestselling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Van Allsburg’s “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.” Contributors include Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, and Stephen King.

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