Wednesday, January 24

The Vintage Contemporaries Reader

Vintage Conteporaries Reader, Booksale, php40

My book # 2 for 2007 is The Vintage Contemporaries Reader. I''ve already read some of the stories here elsewhere, like the the opening chapter from Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City, which I really liked. There's also David Guterson's "Piranhas" and excerpts from Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street.

But I'm really pleased with my new discoveries, however admittedly late in the game, like Ann Beattie's "What Was Mine," where a man goes to pick up some things which an "uncle" left him in his will. What amazes me is the economy and fluidity of the story. How it builds a world and the relationship of the people in that world.

I also liked Raymond Carver's "Why, Honey?" where a mother recalls the acts of a son which were suspicious at the time, but she didn't have the heart to confront him. Now that she's in danger, there's that palpable sense of threat and she can only ask why though perhaps it's already too late.

The anthology gives you a good look at the fiction produced in America in the last couple of decades, and I suppose it's just fitting that it closes with a story from McInerney, "How It Ended." It is a fitting end, though the story asks you to really suspend disbelief about a former golden boy who has escaped drug dealing and prison in Cuba and now wants to be a lawyer. All in all, a very good read.

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