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by | Read by Ashley Warlick, Meg Wolitzer, Christopher Tilghman et al.

Short Stories • 5 hrs. • Unabridged • © 1999

[Editor Note: The following is a combined review with THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1999.]--Each year a guest editor carefully selects the best stories from the nation's literary magazines to be published together in The Best American Short Stories. One does not envy John Updike the agonizing task of choosing the best of the best--the most enduring stories from the 84 annual volumes published through 1999. Happily, he ably fielded the challenge, selecting the work of authors running the gamut from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sherwood Anderson to Tim O'Brien and Lorrie Moore. Late authors are read by other writers; living authors read their own works. Cynthia Ozick's 2,000-word masterpiece of the Holocaust, "The Shawl," combines stark brutality with story elements that border on magical realism. Ozick's flat, unrelenting reading, in a tone that echoes the very experience of physical and spiritual starvation, sears this story into one's soul. Rosellen Brown, who often writes of love and dysfunction in family life, reads "How to Win," a mother's perspective on her clinically hyperactive child. (Anyone thinking of becoming a new parent should either avoid this story--or listen to it right away.) Brown reads with the intensity of one trying to bridge the unfathomable distance among us all--even mother and child. It's always an ego boost when several of one's own favorite stories over the year make it into the next Best American anthology. The Best American Short Stories 1999, a not-to-be-missed collection, features Rick Bass narrating his luminous winter tale, "The Hermit's Story." His reading adds a hypnotic dimension to this story-within-a-story. In contrast, Junot Díaz's raw reading of "The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars" captures all the macho vulnerability of the young New Jersey Latino whose girlfriend is breaking up with him. Chitra Divakaruni's lilting narration of "Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter" spins an unhappy tale of clashing cultures with a surprising ending that lifts the heart. Writing and literature teachers eager to use these stories in the classroom will need to screen them--as some of the language, while accurately reflecting character and setting, is not appropriate below the college level. E.K.D. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine [Published: JUN/JUL 01]

Retail pak • Houghton Mifflin • 1999

CS ISBN 0618013210 $25.00 • Four cassettes

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