The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

Joyce Carol Oates

Book cover for The Oxford Book of American Short Stories
Book cover for The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

Joyce Carol Oates

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In The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Joyce Carol Oates offers a sweeping survey of American short fiction, in a collection of nearly sixty tales that combines classic works with many "different, unexpected" gems, and that invites readers to explore a wealth of important pieces by women and minority writers.

Some selections simply can't be improved on, Oates admits, and she happily includes such time-honored works as Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." But alongside these often-anthologized tales, Oates introduces such little-known stories as Mark Twain's "Cannibalism in the Cars," a work that reveals a darker side to his humor. From Melville come the juxtaposed tales "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," of which Oates says, "only Melville could have fashioned out of 'real' events...such harrowing and dreamlike allegorical fiction." The reader will also delight in the range of authors found here, from Charles W. Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, and Sarah Orne Jewett, to William Carlos Williams, Kate Chopin, and Langston Hughes, to Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

For the second edition, Oates has introduced a wide range of new stories from writers who represent the state of American literature today. These new works include Lorrie Moore's "How to Become a Writer," Richard Ford's "Under the Radar," Junot Diaz's "Edison, New Jersey," David Foster Wallace's "Good People," Philip Roth's "Defender of the Faith," and Amy Hempel's "Today Will Be a Quiet Day." As in the original volume, Oates provides fascinating introductions to each writer, blending biographical information with her own trenchant observations about their work. In addition, she has written a new preface that contemplates our shifting literary culture, and has revised her introductory essay to the first edition, in which she offers the fruit of years of reflection on a genre in which she herself is a master.

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the National Book Award-winning author of over fifty novels, including bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, and The Gravedigger's Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University.

Critical Reviews

Praise for the first edition:

"Joyce Carol Oates has cast her net further and deeper, drawing from American literature's impressive past and substantial cultural wealth.... Exceptional."--Booklist

"More than a survey of writing styles. It is a celebration of the diversity of American culture."--Denver Post

"Readers who take an encompassing view of American literature and culture will love this book, which brilliantly captures the range and heft of the remarkable American contribution to the short story genre. With penetrating introductions by Joyce Carol Oates to each writer, this is an anthology of the finest kind, a collection of stories dazzling in variety but unified by an editor of singular intelligence and vision."--Arnold Rampersad, Princeton University

"Joyce Carol Oates, a master fabulist who is also one of our finest critics, has given us a treasury that represents the astonishing range of the American short story. But instead of another showcase of 'greatest hits, ' Oates ventures further afield, to uncover a series of neglected but refulgent gems. This is a collection with guts--and brains. Best of all, it's a collection that unfolds, as its editor promises, the larger story of American writing, in all its hues and timbres."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

"A splendid volume of short stories which reflect the wealth of brilliance built up over the years by a wide ranging field of American writers. Oates has done an outstanding job in making this selection.... She does not always go for the well known stories by delights us with some that have remained somewhat obscure."--Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

"To a short story lover it is hard to think of a book that could give more pleasure."--Scotland on Sunday

Publishing Information

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Pub date: 2012-08-28
Length: 896 pages
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