Since this is an annual publication—despite title—the short story’s continuing evolution may be visible—although not yet deciphered—over even the one short year of this stellar 528-page collection.
Since this is an annual publication—despite title—the short story’s continuing evolution may be visible—although not yet deciphered—over even the one short year of this stellar 528-page collection. Examples of concepts discarded long before now include epiphany endings—see Robie-Macauley-Prize winning “Above Asmara” by Tamara Guirado: “A woman in a white coat hovered near him with her arms raised hesitantly, as if deciding whether to embrace of restrain him. I kept breathing.” No suicides—and here’s “Ketchikan” by David Vann: “[. . .] the place where my dead father had first gone astray, the place where this father and his suicide and his cheating and his lies and my pity for him, also, might finally be put to rest: Ketchikan.” Standing upon the shoulders of giants (name-dropping of writers and titles, also movies and actors), everyone does it these days. Stories without serpents—I made up the last rule and, sure enough, it’s not heeded—see “Pig Helmet” by Pinckney Benedict and Daniel Orozco’s “Shakers,” the last a vivid catalogue of earthquake in all its terrifying forms and portents, and then, reading Andrew Foster Altschul’s account of wildfire, “Leaving Idyllwild,” I nearly forgot how much I love California. Perhaps the unifying factor of these stories is their sense of place, of explicit place and time—except Tom Kealey’s haunting “The Boots,” which reminded me of Kafka’s timeless “The Hunter Gracchus”—either that or the educational history shared by most of the contributors and by the guest-editors of this special issue, all of whom are Stegner Fellows.