Creative Collection of American Short Stories, The

The Creative Collection of American Short Stories

Various (Author)

Yan Nascimbene (Illustrator)

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Featuring authors from Edgar Allan Poe to Alice Walker, and spotlighting themes from Gothic horror to frontier humor, this illustrated anthology presents 17 great American short stories.


There is no discernible theme in this eclectic anthology of brief fiction, but who needs a theme when the collection includes dark stories such as Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat," Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," Willa Cather's "Paul's Case," and Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" But the book also has humorous stories, such as Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," bizarre stories–Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat"–and stories of hope and triumph: Katherine Anne Porter's "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums," Ray Bradbury's "Icarus Montgolfier Wright" and James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." (Who can resist his wonderful "pocketa-pocketa-queep" machines?) I was pleased to see entries by Langston Hughes ("Thank You, Ma'am") and Alice Walker ("Everyday Use") and disappointed by the inclusion of Ernest Hemingway's "Hills like White Elephants." (He wrote many better short stories). What really makes this anthology stand out are the glorious watercolor illustrations. Illustrations for the brooding stories have just the right hint of pathos and intrigue and those for the more upbeat stories are full of light and joy. This book stays in my permanent collection.

–Sarah Maury Swan, Children's Literature , January 2011

Ray Bradbury introduces 17 of the finest examples of American short stories in this elegant offering from Creative Editions. Aimed at a young adult audience (high school and up), it's equally suitable for the grown-ups who remember with fondness many of these tales from high school literature class. The Creative Collection of American Short Stories is one of those books that should be in every home and made available to every young reader. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" kicks off the set, dripping with dread and pulling the reader into the mind of a man whose addiction drives him to madness and murder. "A&P" by John Updike, on the other hand, gives us a protagonist who quietly observes a single and seemingly unimportant event yet recognizes that his own ethical code is being tested. Most readers will certainly remember Shirley Jackson's best-known story, "The Lottery," a piece that made a lasting impact on teens of my generation with its hard-hitting depiction of an average community engaged in mindless and brutal tradition. "The wind had a voice as it came over the waves, and it was sadder than the end," writes Stephen Crane in "The Open Boat." Like that wind, the author's voice flows over the reader with the weight of the characters' fates. Curiosity and empathy for the title character combine in Willa Cather's "Paul's Case," leaving us uncertain whether the denouement is the best or worst of outcomes. Katherine Anne Porter's deft handling of stream-of-consciousness tells, in a few short pages, of a life's worth of pain and grief in "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall." Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Alice Walker, Rick Bass, and Bradbury himself are among the authors gathered in The Creative Collection of American Short Stories. There is humor, horror, and history in these stories, as well as examples of truly outstanding writing ability. More importantly, there is a glimpse into the bare naked soul of human beings in each tale. Not to be outdone by these masters of the form, illustrator Yan Nascimbene designed exquisite artwork to perfectly complement the stories. Every detail is in place, words and graphics balanced upon each other to create an all-around and thoroughly satisfying experience for readers.

–Deborah Adams, Curled Up with a Good Kid's Book , April 2011

This anthology is a great introduction to the short-story form. It opens with an essay by Ray Bradbury in which he describes what some of the 17 stories meant to him as a young writer and explains how the diverse group of authors chosen helped define and develop the craft. The selections span more than 150 years of American writing and cover varied themes and settings. Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and Alice Walker are among the featured authors. Nascimbene's lovely watercolor illustrations complement each story. The visual layout of the book is pleasing with quotes from the text highlighted in color on each page.

–Mari Pongkhamsing, School Library Journal , December 2011

The Creative Collection of American Short Stories is a chronological compilation of seventeen quality pieces, including such familiar classics as Poe's "The Black Cat," Twain's "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," and Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Ray Bradbury's poetic homage to flight, "Icarus Montgolfier Wright," and Alice Walker's wry intergenerational character study, "Everyday Use," demonstrate the genre's continued vitality. An introduction by Ray Bradbury, brief biographies of authors, and story notes round out the text. Nascimbene's watercolors enhance each selection. He chooses interesting points of view, upward at the black cat dangling above a house aflame, downward through Peyton Farquhar's eyes at the tumbling contents of that sluggish stream, across speckled black-and-white waves to splashes of human color in a tiny boat. Unfortunately, the book is also filled with a puzzling assortment of colored callouts that fade to illegible white. The publisher lists the book for ages ten and up, but with the excruciating death of a sow in Wallace Stegner's "In the Twilight," and Joyce Carol Oates's abduction of a fifteen-year-old girl in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?," several stories are better suited for older readers. The complexities of theme and language also seem more appropriate for a sophisticated audience for whom "short story" means much more than scary stories to tell in the dark.

–Donna Phillips, VOYA , December 2010