In 2003 I read The Best American Short Stories of the Century, a best-of anthology culled from decades of previous best-of anthologies. When reading collections of various works, I track my responses to each by putting some notes on the table of contents. Besides written comments, I rank things with the classic, lazy teacher method of check /check-plus /check-minus, where the check is average, and the plus or minus pretty well explain themselves.
Here are my notes from this book. I see now how repetitive and banal many of my “reviews” were; I hope that if I read it again today, a lot of my notes would read differently. However, I think my overall opinions would still be positive.
Out of the 56 stories, I gave 7 check-minuses, 20 checks, 25 check-plusses, and even 4 unprecedented check-plus-plusses.
1915. Benjamin Rosenblatt, Zelig—Nothing more than a history lesson, and a poor one at that. √-
1916. Mary Lerner, Little Selves— Useful and pretty, but rigid. Irish. √
1917. Susan Gladspell, A Jury of Her Peers— As bad as Kate Chopin. √ –
1920. Sherwood Anderson, The Other Woman— A bland cliché. √- [unfortunate, as I loved Winesburg, Ohio.] Continue reading →