Breaking into the publishing world with a brilliant short story can be a challenge. While most literary magazines publish some of the best writers, the issues tend to sit quietly on most bookstore shelves in fierce competition with today’s many popular and advertised novels.

The twenty contributors that make this year’s The Best American Short Stories create a “short story Olympics,” writes best-selling novelist and guest editor, {Bel Canto, 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner} Ann Patchett. Her introduction to the volume outlines the proud contribution and impact, the collection in particular, and all short stories in general have in the literary world.
“They are more daring, more artful, and more original,” states Patchett.

This literary buffet, if you will, contains selections from originally published magazines (American and Canadian periodicals) unveiling life in its many subtle and compassionate moments.

An energetic fusion of writers selected in this series includes perennial favorites, such as Alice Munro, Tobias Wolff as well as new artists selected by numerous submissions. Readers are introduced to heart-felt stories, such as Benjamin Percy’s, “Refresh, Refresh,” which is about a boy whose father gets deployed to Iraq; Katherine Bell’s enthralling, “The Casual Car Pool,” describing how the lives of three strangers crossed paths. Other favorites include Robert Coover’s intriguing yet comical “Grandmothers Nose,” in which a little girl comes to terms with death; Jack Livings, “The Dog,” a Beijing dog-racing tale and Maxine Swann’s, “Secret” of a sweet and innocent childhood story. 

The stories cover a plethora of locations throughout the world, portraying different moods maintaining a narrative consistency throughout. Each tone is diverse in both style and character without the expected rhythm and rhyme most short story collections tend to have. The writers do less experimenting in their work, allowing more of a connection and straightforwardness while portraying a profound and emotionally captivating voice.

“So there it is,” states Katrina Kenison (series editor since 1990) in her forward. “A soul growing stronger, thanks to stories, tangible proof that stories matter-old stories read aloud around a dinner table, new stories in the latest issue of our glossy magazines and varied literary journals, and, of course, the stunning stories, that each year, a distinguished guest editor chooses to recognize by placing them between the covers of these books.”

This yearly anthology gives writers a chance to be acknowledged as well as a trail of hope for their many short story creations.


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The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
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Best American Short Stories, 2006
Series editor: Katrina Kenison
Guest editor: Ann Patchett

Houghton Mifflin, 2006


Reviewed by Angela Ambrosini-Haliski
ANGELA AMBROSINI-HALISKI is a native New Yorker, writing for many publications in the arts, health and fashion fields.  On going project includes working on a collection of short stories as well as a children's book. Her main goal in life is to write and be read - preferably in a Parisian Cafe.