Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Best American Short Story anthology of 1979.

Just as with the last volume, I’ll give you a little description of the book. It seems that I purchased this volume sometime in 2008. Probably around the same time as the 1978 volume. Most likely from Amazon. I don’t think I was ordering directly from the company ( Better World Books). The book is hardcover and a former library book. This gives further weight to the thought that it is from Better World.

It is in O.K. shape with a plastic dust cover. Opening it, there is the check-out card pocket with dates ranging from Jan 11, 1980 – the first check-out through July of 1990. There is also a UPC sticker attached above this pocket so it is impossible to know the circulation history past 1990...assuming that the UPC checkout system was implemented then.

Between the card and the UPC sticker is the black DISCARD stamp. And above and to the left of that is a green RETURN TO S.L.O. CITY LIBRARY which looks to cover a blue sticker of some sort...but the same shape and size as the green sticker.

S.L.O. Library - San Luis Obispo Library. San Luis Obispo is in California. Looks even distances between San Jose and L.A. This particular book, according to the stamps on the pocket circulated through several branches of the library.

It appears that the book started off at Cayucos Library in 1980 which is north of San Luis Obispo along the California coast.

It appears that the library sits about one block east of the Pacific Ocean.

From there it moves to San Miguel in 1982.

Makes its way over to the Simmler branch in 1983.

Takes a trip on the BookMobile in November of 1983.

Not sure where it lands then but the stamp has now turned green and circulates somewhere from Dec. 1983 – Nov. 1984.

Looks like it was moved to the Shell Beach branch in Dec. of 1984.

There is another stamp color change in ’85 and ’86 with no branch identified.

There is a South Bay branch stamp but it is unclear if the date is 1987 or 1990.

The final stamp does read CITY JUL 90. I take this to mean that it may have reached the main branch and this happens to be where the UPC may have been applied.

After that...circulation unknown. The book appears to be heavily circulated in 1980 with what looks to be 8 checkouts. Curiously there are 10 checkouts in 1984. Where was the book returned after it was taken from the Book Mobile in Nov. of ’83 and then checked out in Dec. of ’83.

Wherever it landed, the book became very active for a solid year.

It’s absolutely wonderful to think about where this book traveled and who read it. Couches, beds, desks and toilets. This book has seen it all. In circulation at least until the creation of Better World Books. I can’t thank enough the librarian that had the thought to donate this book to Better World Books.

So, here we are. The novel has finally ended up with me. I’ll have it for some time. I can’t imagine ever selling it or giving it away. Perhaps it’ll stay with me my entire life. Because it is now part of a collection, that collection secures it’s home with me for an extended period of time.

I look forward to reading it. Joyce Carol Oates is the volume editor and I because she is one of my favorite (out of only a few), I can’t imagine that she would or evn could pick a story that I won’t like. Pretty prejudiced already huh?

No, I’m not naïve enough to think that there wouldn’t be a few in there that just wouldn’t measure up...I just feel that she will do a better job than Solotaroff (had to get one last jab in there).


  1. Very fun tracing of the books travels. Given your interest in how cool that is, you should check out bookcrossing.com which does said tracking for a living. Love where you got the book.

    BWB Marketing Guy

  2. May I make a suggestion? Your spreadsheet showing the complete tables of contents of all previous editions of BASS would be *invaluable* to people trying to determine to which short-story market to send their stories, if the journals in which these stories first appeared were also listed next to the authors' names.

  3. Wonderful idea. As I'm always looking for ways to improve or add to my spreadsheets, I think I'll go ahead and do this. Unfortunately, some of the journals in the 70s and 80s no longer publish...but the later years could provide some insight.Thanks for the suggestion..it may take be a little while...check back though.