The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: 50 North American Stories Since 1970

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Fifty remarkable short stories from a range of contemporary fiction authors including Junot Diaz, Amy Tan, Jamaica Kincaid, Jhumpa Lahiri, and more, selected from a survey of more than five hundred English professors, short story writers, and novelists.

Contributors include Russell Banks, Donald Barthelme, Rick Bass, Richard Bausch, Charles Baxter, Amy Bloom, T.C. Boyle, Kevin Brockmeier, Robert Olen Butler, Sandra Cisneros, Peter Ho Davies, Janet Desaulniers, Junot Diaz, Anthony Doerr, Stuart Dybek, Deborah Eisenberg, Richard Ford, Mary Gaitskill, Dagoberto Gilb, Ron Hansen, A.M. Homes, Mary Hood, Denis Johnson, Edward P. Jones, Thom Jones, Jamaica Kincaid, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Leavitt, Kelly Link, Reginald McKnight, David Means, Susan Minot , Rick Moody, Bharati Mukherjee, Antonya Nelson, Joyce Carol Oates, Tim O’Brien, Daniel Orozco, Julie Orringer, ZZ Packer, Annie Proulx, Stacey Richter, George Saunders, Joan Silber, Leslie Marmon Silko, Susan Sontag, Amy Tan, Melanie Rae Thon, Alice Walker, and Steve Yarbrough.
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About the author

Lex Williford teaches in the bilingual writing program at the University of Texas, El Paso. He previously taught in the writing programs at Southern Illinois University and the University of Alabama. His collection of stories, Macauley's Thumb, was co-winner of the 1993 Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction. He lives with his wife in El Paso, Texas.

Michael Martone has taught at Iowa State University, Harvard University, and Syracuse University. He is currently teaching at the University of Alabama, where he has directed the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Double-wide: Collected Fiction is his eighth book of stories. Racing in Place, his third book of nonfiction, will be published in 2008. He has edited six other volumes of prose including the Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction with Lex Williford. He lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Nov 27, 2012
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Pages
672
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ISBN
9781476727363
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Anthologies (multiple authors)
Literary Criticism / American / General
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Is it truth or fiction? Memoir or essay? Narrative or associative? To a writer like Michael Martone, questions like these are high praise. Martone’s studied disregard of form and his unruffled embrace of the prospect that nothing--no story, no life--is ever quite finished have yielded some of today’s most splendidly unconventional writing. Add to that an utter weakness for pop Americana and what Louise Erdrich has called a “deep affection for the ordinary,” and you have one of the few writers who could pull off something like Racing in Place. Up the steps of the Washington Monument, down the home stretch at the Indy Speedway, and across the parking lot of the Moon Winx Lodge in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Martone chases, and is chased by, memories--and memories of memories. He writes about his grandfather’s job as a meter reader, those seventies-era hotels with atrium lobbies and open glass elevators, and the legendary temper of basketball coach Bob Knight.

Martone, as Peter Turchi has said, looks “under stones the rest of us leave unturned.” So, what is he really up to when he dwells on the make of Malcolm X’s eyeglasses or the runner-up names for Snow White’s seven dwarfs? In “My Mother Invents a Tradition,” Martone tells how his mom, as the dean of girls at a brand-new high school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, “constructed a nostalgic past out of nothing.” Sitting at their dining room table, she came up with everything from the school colors (orange and brown) to the yearbook title (Bear Tracks). Look, and then look again, Martone is saying. “You never know. I never know.”

In The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Joyce Carol Oates offers a sweeping survey of American short fiction, in a collection of nearly sixty tales that combines classic works with many "different, unexpected" gems, and that invites readers to explore a wealth of important pieces by women and minority writers. Some selections simply can't be improved on, Oates admits, and she happily includes such time-honored works as Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." But alongside these often-anthologized tales, Oates introduces such little-known stories as Mark Twain's "Cannibalism in the Cars," a work that reveals a darker side to his humor. From Melville come the juxtaposed tales "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," of which Oates says, "only Melville could have fashioned out of 'real' events...such harrowing and dreamlike allegorical fiction." The reader will also delight in the range of authors found here, from Charles W. Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, and Sarah Orne Jewett, to William Carlos Williams, Kate Chopin, and Langston Hughes, to Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. For the second edition, Oates has introduced a wide range of new stories from writers who represent the state of American literature today. These new works include Lorrie Moore's "How to Become a Writer," Richard Ford's "Under the Radar," Junot Diaz's "Edison, New Jersey," David Foster Wallace's "Good People," Philip Roth's "Defender of the Faith," and Amy Hempel's "Today Will Be a Quiet Day." As in the original volume, Oates provides fascinating introductions to each writer, blending biographical information with her own trenchant observations about their work. In addition, she has written a new preface that contemplates our shifting literary culture, and has revised her introductory essay to the first edition, in which she offers the fruit of years of reflection on a genre in which she herself is a master.
Unconventions is a quirky and provocative miscellany that reveals Michael Martone’s protean interests as a writer and a writing teacher. Martone has, shall we say, a problem with authority. His chief pleasure in knowing the rules of his vocation comes from trying out new ways to bend, blend, or otherwise defy them. The pieces gathered in Unconventions are drawn from a long career spent loosening the creative strictures on writing. Including articles, public addresses, essays, interviews, and even a eulogy, these writings vary greatly in form but are unified in addressing the many technical and artistic issues that face all writers, particularly those interested in experimental and nontraditional modes and forms.

Martone’s approach has always been to synthesize, to understand and use any technique, formula, or style available. “I find myself, then,” he writes, “self-identifying as a formalist, both and neither an experimenter and/or a traditionalist.” In “I Love a Parade: An Afterword,” Martone writes about not fitting in--and loving it--as he recalls the time he marched alone in a local Labor Day parade, as a one-person delegation from the National Writers Union. Elsewhere, in writings formally, stylistically, purposely at odds with themselves, Martone’s expansive curiosity is on full display. We learn about camouflage techniques, how a baby acquires language, how to “read” a WPA-era post office mural, and why Martone sold his stock in the New Yorker and reinvested his money in the company that makes Etch A Sketch®.

Unconventions, then, is Martone’s “Frankensteinian monster,” a kind of unruly, hybrid spawn of the mainstream writing enterprise. “Writing seems to me an intrinsic pleasure, an end in itself first,” says Martone. “The question for me is not whether my writing, or any piece of writing, is good or bad but what the writing is and what it is doing and how finally it is used or can be used by others.”

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