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Across the Bridge – Mavis Gallant

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Across the Bridge is the ninth and final story by Mavis Gallant to be featured in the Best American series. Gallant is a master storyteller. There’s just one problem for me. I don’t like her stories. I believe I gave her a fair shot in my early treatment after my first exposure to her writing. But as I read more of her…I just found that she wasn’t to my tastes. That’s about all I have to say about that.  

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain – Robert Olen Butler

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As these short stories allow us, and for a reader to fully take advantage of them, one must trust the author, suspend reality, surrender yourself and become someone else.  A great author can take you out of your "body" and drop you into a character of their choosing. Of course, you have to play along, fully immerse yourself in the story, and not throw up any obstacles to the immersion.  And what is terrific about this is that you can close the book and return to "your life" but still retain the life of that character if you feel the necessity. The written story really is an incredible device – as is the mind that absorbs and translates the strange symbols printed on the pages. Through this story that first appeared in the New England Review, Robert Olen Butler invites you to slip into the mind of an elderly Vietnamese man nearing death as he reflects upon his life, visiting departed relatives and acquaintances…even the restless ghost of Ho Chi Minh. I've often w

Silver Water – Amy Bloom

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Silver Water first appeared in Story magazine. I once had a nice collection of Story magazines, and it pains me to write the word once in this sentence.  I believe they were all “donated” to a local thrift store. I like to imagine that they were snatched up by another lover of the short story, but in reality, they probably sat on the shelf in the store and were dumped after not selling.  I suppose they were only valuable to me, purchased from a used book store in downtown Norfolk in the mid 00’s with birthday money from my grandmother. I remember writing that down in the cover of one of the editions.  They stood in formation on my bookshelf for several years, and I’d pull one out every so often, thumb through it, read a story and return it to its home. Amy Bloom makes three appearances in The Best American anthology. Her first appearance was in 1991 with  Love is Not a Pie .  We will visit with Amy again in 2000.  Love is Not a Pie is a beautiful story and compelled me to write one of

A Different Kind of Imperfection – Thomas Beller

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"Nothing is bothering me. It’s just odd to be back. You know, like, when you go away and then you come back and it’s, like-" A Different Kind of Imperfection was first published in The New Yorker, fittingly, is a New York story ( I wonder if there were short story writers that purposely wrote New York City stories in an attempt to get them in the New Yorker with the thought that they would actually get published there and then propelled into literary stardom…). As I do with these stories, and especially with the stories published in the 90s, I travel back to those days and reflect on my life and draw parallels between the story and what I was going through then...and sometimes now. This one is very easy to do as it features a character that has returned home to NYC on a break from college. He lives with his single mother (father died when the boy was 10) and lazes about the house reading a book from his father’s collection, wondering what an underlined phrase means to the now

Days of Heaven - Rick Bass

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                                                 So happy to encounter Rick Bass along this journey once again. I was first introduced to him in 2012 with  Cats And Students, Bubbles And Abysses . Looking back at that post, it seems that I enjoyed the story but had a bit of trouble fully understanding it. Meeting  him again in 2017, through  The Legend Of Pig-Eye  was welcome and I really had a great time reading about the publication of the story and and thinking about the message.  When I saw that Bass had a story in this collection, I was really looking forward to reading it - and more so after reading the first story in the collection that I wasn't especially fond of. Days of Heaven is a beautiful story. Well, perhaps beautiful is the wrong word - but I can't seem to come up with another word right now that fits how I felt after reading it.  I suppose what I enjoyed most about this story is that - well, it's a story. It didn't force me to seek something out within

The Last Lovely City - Alice Adams

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The last time we had the chance to spend some time with Alice Adams was a couple years ago when we were introduced to her as the editor for BASS 1991.   I mentioned that she  first appeared in The BASS in 1976 so I missed her by a couple of years as this project started with the 1978 collection. She is featured again with two stories after the guest editor spot in the BASS ’92 and ’96. Adams appears first in the 1992 collection simply because of her last name. It seems that the editor and guest editor of these volumes have consistently agreed that the easiest way to order the stories is alphabetical by the authors last name - with the exception of BASS 1992 guest edited by John Gardner. The Last Lovely City takes place along Stinson Beach California. With the incredible technology afforded to us in these times, I was able to visit the same beach town Alice did and decided to make as the setting for her story. This story first appeared in The New Yorker in the March 11, 1991 issue. Th

Intermission

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I'm pretty sure the algorithms synced across a few platforms to bring In the Land of Men to my attention - and just like that, I downloaded it last night, and I'm primed to start reading tonight.  I'm excited about this book mainly because I think it'll offer some additional insight to the lit scene of the 90's. We've just breached the 90s in this BASS exploration project and BASS 1992 is the first time we encounter David Foster Wallace - a major part of Miller's book. Additionally, according to my spreadsheet,  during her time at Esquire , Miller edited four authors that landed in The Best American Short Stories.  I'll be sure to circle back around in a few days with my thoughts.