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Baxter, Charles, guest ed. John Kulka & Natalie Danford, series eds. Best new American voices 2001.

Baxter, Charles, guest ed. John Kulka & Natalie Danford, series eds. Best new American voices 2001. Harcourt, Harvest. 368p. c2001. 0-156010658. $14.00. SA

The selections here were culled from arts organizations, summer writing conferences, community workshops, and graduate creative writing programs throughout the United States. Each of the 17 pieces of short fiction in this anthology is challenging to the reader, and artfully crafted. None of the stories pander to the reader, or tell a dry, stale expected tale. The writing is new, fresh, and vibrant.

The breadth of subject matter found in these stories is amazing. In "Oh Albany, My Love," by Jeb Livingwood, the main characters are a loving gay couple who are squabbling over one person's chosen careen In "Superassassin," by Lysley A. Tenorio, the reader sees the world through the eyes of a lonely young man obsessed with comic books. Julie Orringer's astounding story, "Thanksgiving," is told through Ella, a little girl attending a Thanksgiving dinner where the events become dark, bewildering and tragic. The array of different tales, and of unique writing styles, found in this collection is impressive.

It should be noted that Best New American Voices 2001 pulls no punches--there are no "easy" or predictable endings to these stories. Some stories do involve violence or sexual situations, but all the stories are excellently crafted, and the level of artistry is very high.

My only disappointment with this collection is that the short stories chosen all came from creative writing graduate programs, or former students of graduate programs. The previous, inaugural edition of this series had stories from a wider range of sources, including the PEN Prison Writers. If this series is to continue to highlight new American voices, I feel that those voices should ring out from many different writing programs. Janice Bees, Freelance Reviewer, Chicago, IL
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bees, Janice
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2002
Words:304
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