July 18, 2009

Missing BASS


I just started reading my way through my Best American Short Stories, staring in 2008 and going back. I haven't made it far, I'm only to 2006 (I just started, leave me alone), however I've noticed a couple things already.

One, 2008 was either a bad year for the short story or guest editor Salman Rushdie has poor taste because a lot of those stories were not very good. Even the Alice Munro story was weak. There were two or three gems in there, but on the whole, meh, especially compared to the 2007 version which was pretty darn good, I think. Stephen King knows how to pick them.

I've also noticed how these BASS with a guest editor really showcases what they like. I mean, in 2008 so many of them have a kind of flaccid non-ending about them, which must be something that Salman Rushdie likes to pick so many stories that end like that. And in 2007, for there to be 2 stories that include penis mutilation, well that's got to be more than a coincidence. Also, Rushdie likes his stories pretty short while King likes them to last for pages and pages.

So, it got me thinking about the whole guest editor thing, which started in 1978 I believe, and if some story was unjustly left out of BASS recognition because of some impossibly tight aesthetic by the guest editor or some kind of favored owed to another writer or to help a friend get a leg up or any of the other stuff that could pervade a subjective selection process. And that led me to wondering what eligible great stories that were never included in a BASS? BASS dates back to 1915, so they had to have missed quite a few. I mean, was "A Clean, Well Lighted Place" a BASS selection? I don't know and I'm too tired to research it. But, if not, why? And what was picked instead? That's gotta be a "How Green is My Valley" kind of a moment, right?

Do you know any glaring BASS omissions? Share'em in the comments, please.

viva el mustache


Diana said...

"Big Me" by Dan Chaon. It first appeared in Gettysburg Review (which is where I came across it), then was reprinted in the O'Henry Prizes but got over looked for BASS. It's a brilliant story. Here's a link:


DeWolf said...

Totally agree with you on the BASS 2008. I've got three more stories to read before I'm finished, but so far it's been a disappointment. The Boyle, Saunders, and Wolff stories are good, though.

Looking at the 100 notable stories, "Found Objects," by Jennifer Egan (http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2007/12/10/071210fi_fiction_egan), "If I Vanished," by Stuart Dybek (http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2007/07/09/070709fi_fiction_dybek), "And We Will Be Here," by Paul Yoon--which was selected for an O. Henry Prize--and "Nixon Swims," by Steve Almond were all better than most of the stories in BASS 2008.

Flynn said...

Jermaine Dye and Pablo Sandoval