Friday, September 10, 2010

The Introduction and Contents of The Best American Short Stories 1985

Gail Godwin - June 18, 1937

As I struggled to finish the 1984 edition of The BASS, early one morning before opening the book, I shuffled over to my bookshelf and pulled out the 1985 edition in the hopes that the book would inspire me to finish the current one with a little more enthusiasm.
“Who the hell is Gail Godwin” I thought.
Not knowing this author/editor , I turned the book over to take a look and see who this “Godwin” selected for BASS 1985.
I was pretty pleased to see a few familiar names and I had faith that Ravenel wouldn’t let me down (I’ll excuse the Elkin selection).
I finish 1984 and the day arrives to pick up and begin 1985. All set to plunge headlong into the reading…yet the question remains –
“Who the hell is Gail Godwin”
I won’t bore you with repeating everything I discovered about her through various sites on the net. There are quite a few and they go into great detail on her personal and literary life ( very impressive).
I’ll say that she is very deserving of being the editor of this volume.
I spent a decent amount of time reading about Godwin, and folded in what I learned through reading other sources along with her introduction at the beginning of the anthology, and I am comfortable in saying that I think Godwin is going to deliver a collection of stories that will be some of the most pleasing to date.
How do I form this opinion?
Well, first, I think Gail is pretty frick’in cool.
I like her style of life…her outlook on humanity, her questioning and probing of the world.
She and I see a similar function of literature… and that draws me to her.
An example from her introduction:
…the motto of this collection might well be : “Tell me something I need to know – about art, about the world, about human behavior, about myself.”
See those last two words above? About myself”
That’s what I am attempting to do with this whole “blog” exercise…it’s what I have been doing since 2008 (really only since 2009)…but I see a connection with Godwin just though her introduction.
She also writes : The paradox I have discovered, in writing and in reading the writing of others, is that the more you respect and focus on the singular and the strange, the more you become aware of the universal and the infinite.
That’s what I’m talking about!
I feel that Godwin is very self aware – someone who in 1985 was not absorbed in the person of “Gail Godwin”.
There are many pictures of Godwin to be found online. I decided to steal and place the below one on this site for this reason.

The photo was from 1959. She had just finished college and was about to strike out into the world. She is a beautiful young woman and it appears that she is very aware of the power that her beauty holds.
Now, I see that she is also portraying a stance that reflects the power of her intellect. She is ready to attack, to challenge, to disrupt, to disturb and finally to know… the world. (see her brow? It's in there!)
So Mrs. Godwin – let’s see what you’ve chosen for me. I trust you haven’t let me down.

The Best American Short Stories 1985 Gail Godwin & Shannon Ravenel (Houghton Mifflin, 1985
Introduction Gail Godwin
1 Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story • Russell Banks •The Missouri Review, 1984
24 Dogs’ Lives • Michael Bishop • The Missouri Review v7 #2 ’84
44 -Emperor of the Air • Ethan Canin • Atlantic Monthly Dec ’84
58 -The Leather Man • E. L. Doctorow • The Paris Review, 1984
67- Roses • Margaret Edwards • The Virginia Quarterly Review, 1984
84 -Walking, Walking • Starkey Flythe • Northwest Review, 1984
96- The Sudden Trees • H. E. Francis • Prairie Schooner, 1984
116- You’ve Come a Long Way, Mickey Mouse • Bev Jafek • Columbia Magazine of Poetry and Prose, 1984
126- Clothing • John L’Heureux • Tendril, 1984
139 -The Piano Tuner • Peter Meinke • Atlantic Monthly Feb ’84
150- Fellow-Creatures • Wright Morris • New Yorker Dec 31 ’84
157 -Angela • Bharati Mukherjee • Mother Jones, 1984
168 -City of Boys • Beth Nugent • North American Review, 1984
183 -Raven’s Wing • Joyce Carol Oates • Esquire, 1984
192 -Instruments of Seduction • Norman Rush • The Paris Review, 1984
206 -Secrets • Deborah Seabrooke • The Virginia Quarterly Review, 1984
220- The Gittel • Marjorie Sandor • Georgia Review, 1984
235 -Lily • Jane Smiley • Atlantic Monthly Jul ’84
256- The Johnstown Polka • Sharon Sheehe Stark • West Branch, 1984
273- The Skater • Joy Williams • Esquire, 1984

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