Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story

. October 2012. 368p. 978-1-25000-598-4. 16.
The editors of this anthology asked 20 “masters of the genre” (among them Anne Beattie, Mary Gaitskill, David Bezmozgis, and Lorrie Moore) to select a favorite short story from the Paris Review archives from 1953 to the near present. In addition to being a treasure trove of great reading for short story lovers, the book showcases the richness of that historical source. Cross-generational selections include Alexandar Hemon’s choice of Jorge Luis Borges’s “Funes the Memorious,” Wells Tower’s choice of Evan S. Connell’s “The Beau Monde of Mrs. Bridge,” and Lydia Davis’s choice of Jane Bowles’s “Emmy Moore’s Journal.” The authors explain their choices in short introductions, themselves great reading, including David Means on Raymond Carver’s well-known “Why Don’t You Dance”: “Carver opens in the kitchen, moves to action—pouring a drink—and then we follow as the narrator gazes out the window to see the bedroom suite in the front yard. In less than a beat, we’re pulled into a deep, internal thought: his side, her side. All this in a little more than sixty words.” Also included are several brilliant stories by lesser-known writers, like Guy Davenport (selected by Norman Rush) and Thomas Glynn (selected by Jonathan Lethem), that one hopes will lead to a resurgence of interest.
VERDICT Like the Paris Review’s revered author interview collections, this anthology of short stories selected by some of the great practitioners of our time is bound to be read and studied for years to come.
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