The following are my reactions to each of the twenty short stories in “The Best American Short Stories – 2014,” in order of appearance.
Loved. Meh. Anticlimactic. Painful. Eek. Oh, my heart. Interesting. O.K.… Did I miss something? Wow. Felt like that went nowhere. Nice. Made me feel something but why? Beautiful. Eek. Ouch. Nope. Oh man. A dog’s point of view. Again…I have no idea why you told me this story.
I think that what makes a good story is subjective. We might be able to put our finger on what really makes a bad story, but a good one? I think it’s an impossible task. These weren’t bad stories, but most of them just didn’t speak to me. I felt lost as to why they were telling me these things. Then again, I’m not much of a deep reader. I like things spelled out for me, the same way I like reality to be spelled out. Don’t beat around the bush! What are you trying to say? I don’t have time to decipher what you’re thinking.
Someone else may have loved every single one. What is a good story? Depends on how you view the world, what you want, and how you think.
I did enjoy the book though. It was not a waste of nearly twelve hours of my life. There were some amazing scenes. Some were heart breaking and some lifted my spirits. I also learned something; I could write things like this. It’s not my style, my talent, or my subject matter holding me back. It’s my fear of rejection.
I’ve pulled out a few of my favorite quotes for you. Enjoy!
“Wildflowers bloom without worry.” Long Tom Lookout by Nicole Cullen
“He kept this dangerous knowledge inside him where it tightened and squeezed, but where it couldn’t menace the greater world.” At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners by Lauren Groff
“The eyes of other people distracted her; the way those eyes begged for an instant intimacy wasn’t just an imposition, it was an affront. An assault, even.” This is Not a Love Song by Brendan Mathews
“What makes you so sure that what I ‘just know’ is any less reliable than what you ‘just know’?” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor
“…’herd dreaming,’ which refers to a mass of people begin possessed by the same delusion: fainting epidemics, or nationalism, or the craze for teeth whitening.” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor
“Do you have any secrets?” Antarctica by Laura Van Den Berg
I have another one of these collections of short stories and I’ll be reading it soon but reading this one has inspired me to submit some of my stories to magazines. I think I’ll make that a year end goal, make myself a post it and give myself a nice reward if I reach it.
Go back to my first post “The Best American Short Stores 2014: A New Read” to see where I started.