Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Best Anthologies

For me, one of the greatest anthologies is THE VINTAGE BOOK OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, edited by Tobias Wolff more than 20 years ago now. These were the short story writers I grew up on-at least grew up on as a short story writer.

Contributors include: Mary Gaitskill,  Thom Jones,  Andre Dubus,  Tim O'Brien, Chris Offutt,  Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, ; Robert Stone,   Mona Simpson,   Ann Beattie, Jamaica Kincaid, "Girl"; Stuart Dybek,  Barry Hannah,  John Edgar Wideman, Ron Hansen, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, etc. These were the finest writers of that era and many are still today.

My favorite crime anthology is Hard-Boiled, a chronological assemblage of some of best crimes stories by all of the best writers beginning with Dashell Hammett and ending with Ed Gorman, and including every major crime fiction writer in the field in between.

What are some of the greatest multi-authored anthologies for you?


Charles Gramlich said...

My favorite anthologies are either SF or horror. My absolute favorite is the Science fiction hall of fame volume 1.

Anonymous said...

Those are both excellent choices.

Ron Goulart's THE HARDBOILED DICKS got me started in the 1970's, followed by Ruhm's THE HARD-BOILED DETECTIVEand Shaw's original THE HARD-BOILED OMNIBUS, all of which I read in 1977. The series of SISTERS IN CRIME anthologies and those edited by Otto Penzler & Bob Randisi are generally of a high quality, as was THE BLACK LIZARD ANTHOLOGY OF CRIME FICTION and others by Gorman, Pronzini & Muller.

Most of the straight fiction collections I read are single author collections rather than anthologies. But as I don't have my complete lists with me it is hard to give a full answer.

Jeff M.

Richard said...

My favorite story collections, multiple author, are the Black Lizard collection, the one Jeff mentions and the two "Big Book of" pulp stories.

As for single author, though it's not what you asked, my favorites might be COLLECTED STORIES OF JOHN CHEEVER and COLLECTED STORIES OF PAUL THOROUX. I also love the COLLECTED STORIES OF GRAHAM GREENE.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The Cheever collection is one of the very best. Will have to look for the other two.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Also the Black Lizards.

Kelly Robinson said...

It's funny, I used to be averse to short stories, except for a few random favorites. Now that I'm trying to learn to write them, I've been reading them to study them, and I'm finding quite a few that I do like.

George said...

There are dozens and dozens of great anthologies on my shelves. I'm a big fan of Ed Hoch's Best Detective Stories of the Year, 1976 through 1981 and The Year's Best Mystery and Suspense Stories, 1982 through 1995.

I'm with Charles on SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME Volume 1. Great book! And I'm with Rick on THE COLLECTED STORIES OF JOHN CHEEVER & GRAHAM GREENE. Jeff is right about those Gorman and Muller & Pronzini anthologies.

Gerard said...

I cannot recall an anthology that really sticks out.

One of the COMBAT anthologies edited by Stephen Coonts was good because of one specific story. I don't read too many military shoot-em-ups but the collection I had a WWII story that I really, really enjoyed. I looked the author up but, unfortunately, he usually sticks to nonfiction books about airplanes.

Todd Mason said...

How many hours you got? How many do I have to spend on this question? (Anyone looking at my blog will get a partial answer to your question, Patti.)

Gerard's nonchalance is as puzzling to me as Kelly's former aversion. I genuinely fail to understand not liking short fiction, or prizing novels above them. "I hate haiku and sonnets; give me an epic or give me nothing." "Why would I look at a portrait when I can take in a panorama?"

Particularly eclectic anthologies, such as the HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: and Judith Merril's YEAR'S BEST (and Martha Foley's, and Ed Gorman's annuals and the likes of THE NEW MYSTERY) have often been among my favorites, since writers are protean folks (for example, among your cited favorites from the VINTAGE who have had stories in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SF, itself an eclectic assembly, are at least Oates, Dybek and Thom Jones...Offutt's father was an occasional contributor, iirc). "Girl"?

Todd Mason said...

Several anthologies that come to mind that might easily not do so...but which showed me things new to me:

Mostly fiction:
The outnumbered : stories, essays and poems about minority groups by America's leading writers

Edited by Charlotte Brooks, Dell 1967

Shimerdas / Willa Cather --
O'Halloran's luck / Stephen Vincent Benet --
Panic / Donn Byrne --
Angel Levine / Bernard malamud --
The Jewish cemetary at Newport / Henry Wadsworth Longfellow --
The land of room enough / E. P. Maxwell --
Seventy thousand Assyrians / William Saroyan --
The Indian burying ground / Philip Freneau --
Scars of honor / Dorothy Johnson --
Shock / Marian Anderson --
The Cheerleaders / John Steinbeck --
My dungeon shook / James Baldwin --
Fate / Richard Wright --
Let America be America again / Langston Hughes.

Publication: Midnight Specials: An Anthology for Train Buffs and Suspense Aficionados ISFDB Publication Record # 22150
Editors: Bill Pronzini
Year: 1977-05-00

 Midnight Specials: An Anthology for Train Buffs and Suspense Aficionados • interior artwork by uncredited
3 • The Signalman • (1866) • shortstory by Charles Dickens
18 • The Shooting of Curly Dan • (1973) • shortstory by John Lutz
26 • The Invalid's Story • (1882) • shortstory by Mark Twain
35 • A Journey • (1899) • shortstory by Edith Wharton
48 • The Problem of the Locked Caboose • (1976) • novelette by Edward D. Hoch
70 • Midnight Express • (1935) • shortstory by Alfred Noyes
81 • Faith, Hope and Charity • (1930) • shortstory by Irvin S. Cobb
103 • Dead Man • (1936) • shortstory by James M. Cain
118 • The Phantom of the Subway • (1983) • novelette by Cornell Woolrich (variant of You Pays Your Nickel 1936)
139 • The Man on B-17 • (1950) • shortstory by August Derleth [as by Stephen Grendon ]
147 • The Three Good Witnesses • (1945) • shortstory by Harold Lamb
165 • Snowball in July • (1956) • shortstory by Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee [as by Ellery Queen ]
175 • All of God's Children Got Shoes • (1953) • shortstory by Howard Schoenfeld
189 • The Sound of Murder • (1963) • shortstory by William P. McGivern
202 • The Train • (1957) • shortstory by Charles Beaumont
213 • That Hell-Bound Train • (1958) • shortstory by Robert Bloch
231 • Inspector Maigret Deduces • (1966) • shortstory by Georges Simenon (trans. of Jeumont, 51 minutes d'arrĂȘt 1938)
243 • Sweet Fever • (1976) • shortstory by Bill Pronzini
252 • The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady • (1977) • shortstory by Barry N. Malzberg
261 • Bibliography (Midnight Specials) • (1977) • essay by uncredited

23 MODERN STORIES edited by Barbara Howe (Vintage 1963)
Table Of Contents
A Mother’s Tale - James Agee
Conversation Piece - Louise Bogan
Looking for Mr. Green - Saul Bellow
Holiday - Katherine Ann Porter
Mrs. Razor - James Still
The Field of Blue Children - Tennessee Williams
The Light of the World - Ernest Hemingway
The Playground - Elizabeth Enright
Mule in the Yard - William Faulkner
The Heart of the Afternoon – Eleanor Clark
The Bride of the Innisfallen – Eudora Welty
The Man Who Was Loved – James Stern
Compassionata at Hyde Park Corner – Sybille Bedford
The Burning Cactus – Stephen Spender
The Sacred Table – T. C. Worsley
Climacteric – Peter Quennell
The Corvidae – Alwyn Lee
A Story – Dylan Thomas
The Martydom of the House – Alex Comfort
When I Was Thirteen – Denton Welch
The Child of Queen Victoria – William Plomer
Her Table Spread – Elizabeth Bowen
Sorrow-Acre – Isak Dinesen

Todd Mason said...

Barbara Howes, actually. I'm a bear for misspelling names in the middle of the night.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You don't need to correct spelling for me. I know what you mean. And, of course, you win the prize for knowing more about anthologies than anyone. You should write a book about the evolution of the anthology, Todd.

Todd Mason said...

Someone else has recently published a half-good book on just that, albeit restricted mostly to sf/fantasy anthos. Though a recent query on Fiction-L does have me wondering if I should write a book to fill the hole she was asking about...thanks for the too much credit, Patti!