Young writers who are contemplating whether or not to try tackling the short story should give read some of the best out there. There are plenty of collections and anthologies out there, but the Best American Short Stories series is one you can rest assured lives up to its name.
Best American Short Stories is a collection comprised of precisely what its title indicates, and always features a guest editor who is usually of some high literary stature. 2007 saw Stephen King edit one of the largest collections yet, and his introduction detailing his process of story selection and his thoughts on where the short story fits in modern literature is worth the price of admission alone. As for Best American, one can pick up any volume and find several stories worth their time from both established and new voices. I’m a fan of short stories because they lend themselves to single-serving reading; I can read a great short story in bed and have some closure before turning out the light. Likewise, the short story is a writer’s perfect vehicle for embracing constraints in their craft. Novels take a certain skill, no one debates that, but the short story requires a whole other skill set, and the artist who is able to pull off both is impressive, indeed.
The cover posted is from the 2003 collection, featuring one of my favorite short stories of all time, “Space” by three-time O. Henry Prize winner Kevin Brockmeier. I’m a sucker for father/son stories, and I’ve got a soft spot on my reading list for this engrossing metaphor of a tale. You can pick up a copy of Best American Short Stories of 2003 at bookcloseouts.com for two bucks, plus find plenty of work by Brockmeier at great prices, too. Otherwise, check your favorite bookstore – the latest 2007 Stephen King-edited volume is available pretty much everywhere – or visit your local library for a shelf filled with Best American volumes.
Read a volume and apply what you’ve learned to your craft.