Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!
As I’m writing this, it’s a gray rainy day outside, perfect for getting comfy in a bathrobe next to a giant stack of books. Which is good, because I need to get some reading done if I’m to avoid another embarrassing stack of returns...
- FIFTY BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1915-1965 edited by Martha Foley
- 100 YEARS OF THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor
On the principle that anything worth doing is worth overdoing (right? or is that just me? it’s just me, isn’t it?) -- and to recover some of my self-respect after the most recent Library Chicken debacle -- I’ve been frantically reading the massive short story anthologies I checked out a while ago so that I don’t have to return them unread. The annual Best American Short Stories anthology series began publishing in 1915, and I read both the fifty year collection from then series editor Martha Foley, and the centennial collection from current series editor Heidi Pitlor and guest editor Lorrie Moore. There is very little overlap between the two books and you can definitely see how tastes and styles have changed as time has moved on. Unsurprisingly, I preferred the 2015 collection, but the 1965 collection also had its high points (including Dorothy Parker and a very entertaining Ring Lardner story).
(LC Score: +2)
GREAT AMERICAN SHORT STORIES by Wallace and Mary Stegner
This 1957 anthology starts off with a snobby little introduction about the good ol’ days, when stories were actually about something. After that, we get 24 stories, beginning with the old masters (Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe) and continuing through a selection of “modern” authors that aren’t very well-known today. Unfortunately, two of the authors I did recognize, O. Henry and Eudora Welty, were represented by lesser-known super-racist stories, so that was fun.
(LC Score: +1)
THE MONKEY'S OTHER PAW edited by Luis Ortiz
The idea for this 2014 collection is interesting: modern authors revisit classic tales of horror and fantasy. The list of inspirational stories (which includes The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Saki’s “The Open Window”, along with “The Monkey’s Paw") is an odd mix, however, and none of the new stories really worked for me.
(LC Score: +1)
SISTERS OF THE REVOLUTION: A FEMINIST SPECULATIVE FICTION ANTHOLOGY edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
The Vandermeers are a great editing team who always put together fascinating collections, and this 2015 anthology does not disappoint. Important female writers from both the past (Octavia Butler, Angela Carter, Ursula Le Guin) and the present (Nalo Hopkinson, Catherynne Valente, Nnedi Okorafor) of the genre are represented. Not always a cheery read, but always fascinating.
(LC Score: +½, returned overdue)
VANESSA BELL by Frances Spalding
My Girl Who Reads Woolf project continues with a biography of Virginia’s talented and intriguing sister, a professional artist in her own right. Sadly, most of it went over my head, due to my embarrassing ignorance of art history and the art world. One of these days I’m going to check out “Art History for Dummies” and try to learn a thing or two…
(LC Score: +1)
- Library Chicken Score for 3/7/18: 5 ½
- Running Score: + ½
On the to-read/still-reading stack for next week:
- The Pushcart Book of Short Stories edited by Bill Henderson (I’M GOING TO FINISH ALL THESE ANTHOLOGIES, PEOPLE)
- The Norton Book of American Short Stories edited by Peter S. Prescott (I’M SERIOUS ABOUT THIS)
- Holy Disorders by Edmund Crispin (Gervase Fen #2; remember when I used to read the occasional novel instead of short stories all the time? that was fun, right?)
- Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande (I even used the read the occasional memoir--that was fun, too)