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Paperback The Best American Short Stories 2003 Book

ISBN: 0618197338

ISBN13: 9780618197330

The Best American Short Stories 2003

(Part of the The Best American Short Stories Series)

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Book Overview

Best-selling author Walter Mosley has selected the year's top fiction from voices well-known and new. Here several authors bring their stories to vivid life for a banner audio edition.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Just very good literature

This delicious short stories collection has taken me a long time to read. Not because the stories were boring or bad but since every story was so condensed, rich and powerful I could not easily part from a certain state of mind and place and move on the next story. I try to think what are the similar features of these 2003 stories and what can they say about our time...these are very different subjects, characters and places but maybe I could say that the stories discuss a self growth of some sort. Be it a teenager boy having his first sexual encounter with a demonically bewitching mechanically doll or a person reflecting how his life has developed from a certain event as a Chinese delivery boy in the streets of New York -- but off course I guess this is a too easy generalization that can be said of any story whatsoever. "Why the sky turns red when the sun goes down" by Ryan Harty is a good example of the stories ability to emotionally stir you up and touch an issue very relevant for parents everywhere, maybe this is what made this story so special for me. The story starts out as a very ordinary family crisis tale. The father learns that something happened to his boy and goes out to fetch him. The turning point comes when the boy is seen lying down with his hand thrown a few yards away from his body. Slowly you realize that this is a mechanical child and prepare yourself for some science fiction descriptions, which do not arrive. Apart from the very central "mechanical boy" fact this is a very real story in all its levels, with nothing "modern" or alienated about it. By the end of the story I remained with the strong feeling that mechanical or not, the parents are facing the same questions parents everywhere are asking themselves and mainly "are we doing the right thing". How do we keep our children and families safe? What are the lies we tell our children and ourselves in order to keep us safe? "Why the sky turns red..." has the heavy atmosphere that is very characteristic of many of the other stories in this collection. Something hard and heavy is hanging above and the characters are having a hard time trying to push it away, like a certain pain that has become a part of your life. The story "The Bees" suffers (or rather enjoys?) the same heavy atmosphere, only here this is not something between husband and wife but between a man and himself. The man is in turmoil because of something in the past that clouds his present. When the punishment arrives, you accept it as the anticipation and tension has been built up all along. I did not read the previous Best American Short stories but feel as if Walter Mosely has done an incredible job. Or maybe these fine authors have made his job easier. This is a masterpiece collection of stories. "Ghost Knife", "Moriya", " Baby Wilson", "Devotion" and "Future Emergencies" are some of my favorite stories in this collection. Off course I can relate easily to stories which discuss women, parents or people who ar

if you only read one story, read "The Bees"

Having never read one of the "Best American Short Stories" collections, I have no way to judge this latest edition to past efforts. The only thing I can speak to is how I felt about the stories contained in this collection and how good I think they are. There are some very fine stories in this collection with one in particular that I just loved. Louise Erdrich has long been my favorite novelist, but I was still nervous about what she would make from the short story format. "Shamengwa" is a moving story which revolves around a violin and the effect it has had, in various ways, on the lives of several members of a community. Anthony Doerr has one of the better stories in the collection, "The Shell Collector". With such a deceptively simple title, one would not expect such raw power and an interesting story about a man who lives alone but has gained worldwide attention because of the poison in one particular kind of shell. Another standout is Ryan Harty's "Why the Sky Turns Red when the Sun Goes Down", a story of a family with a robotic son (literally, the boy is a robot, or, perhaps an android). This is a touching story. The best story in the collection, and then one that blew me away is Dan Chaon's "The Bees". This one was completely unexpected and shocking. While this one would probably fall into the category of "horror", don't let that mislead you. This one starts out easy, just identifying a man and his family and we start to learn about his past. He wasn't a good man during his first marriage and he deeply regrets it. But as the story continues and we get snippets of revelation, the tension grows and so does this air of creepiness that I got while I was reading it. The tension does not let up until the end of the story, but rather it keeps building because we don't quite know what is going on and this is not what you would assume a typical "horror" story would be. It is a psychological horror and it is just gripping. This is a very fine collection, but "The Bees" was the one story that truly stood out for me and it continues to be memorable. -Joe Sherry

Great Series

I admit I haven't read this year's book, yet. But, this series is at the top of my list every year. The stories are thought prevoking and entertaining. Sure, each volume has one or two that don't catch my fancy. That's because I'm an individual, and that's why it's a collection.

A vintage sampler

I don't think you can go wrong reading either the Best American or the O. Henry short story anthologies; I read both each year. It's somewhat surprising that they are not more popular, since they expose the reader to a wide variety of the best writers and writings, and since short stories can be easily fit into the busiest of lifestyles, especially plane and train rides. Having now read both 2003 editions, I would give the edge to this year's Best American anthology. The collection of stories that guest editor Walter Mosley has chosen are, in general, more readable, more entertaining, and cover a broader range of human emotions, subject matter, and genres. I would also rate the 2003 Best American anthology as a better-than-average or even a vintage year.I especially enjoyed the two "genre" stories included, a horror story and a science fiction story. Each is memorable not because of the aspects of their plots that classify them in their genre, but for what they reveal about human nature. Dan Chaon's "The Bees" shows the dangers of keeping secrets in an attempt to escape the past, and Ryan Harty's "Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down" contains a bizarrely fascinating plot element (a robotic child for couples unable to conceive their own), but what it actually illustrates is the difficult decisions parents make about their children, the immense power they have over them, and the changing relationships when a couple becomes a threesome by having a child.Other highlights: Susan Straight's "Mines", which is a stark, realistic portrayal of the tough choices facing people on both sides of the U.S. criminal justice system; Mary Yukari Water's "Rationing", which illustrates the generational differences in Japanese society; and Anthony Doerr's "The Shell Collector", which is the only story chosen for inclusion in both the Best American and O. Henry anthologies (and rightfully so). Interestingly, there are actually two pairs of stories concerned with similar plot elements (robotic children, and father/son relationships after the mother has passed away), but each pair is very different. This shows why this collection is so strong: it's not so much due to the plot of each story, but rather to what each story says about the human condition.Since choosing favorite stories is such a subjective process, each reader will no doubt have their own favorites. However, this year's Best American anthology provides plenty of good stories from which to choose your own favorites.

Packed with fantastic stories

I've been a fan of Best American for years. This one is particularly great--I love Walter Mosley's choices. Mona Simpson's "Coins" is sharply characterized through a unique and memorable voice. Louise Erdrich's "Shamengwa," full of haunting music, has a quiet, beautiful ending. And Ryan Harty's "Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down," a heartbreaking story about a man faced with a choice between his wife and his very human (but technologically imperfect) android son, is like nothing I've ever read before--so terrific I had to go out and buy Harty's collection, "Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona," which was a knockout too. (Noticed that Tin House made the strongest showing here, with three stories selected. Guess what cool magazine I'll be subscribing to this year?) What a pleasure to read so much outstanding fiction. Very glad to see the short story thriving.

The Best American Short Stories 2003 (The Best American Series) Mentions in Our Blog

The Best American Short Stories 2003 (The Best American Series) in ThriftBooks is Turning 18!
ThriftBooks is Turning 18!
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • July 13, 2021

This month marks our eighteenth birthday here at ThriftBooks. As we transition into adulthood, we are celebrating by remembering some of the most popular books, music, and movies from 2003, the year we were born.

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