The Anchor Book Of New American Short Stories Edited by Ben Marcus

Mikes’ review

VV condensed this eight page introduction into one line in the HoL tagline. “Did this book punch me in the face, and if so, how?”


Sorry George Saunders. Read “Sea Oak” within the year, not gonna happen right now. I’ve got a deadline to meet (I didn’t come close to meeting this deadline. What am I, a month late with this? There’s something about short stories by different authors that’s impossible to read for any sort of extended period, or even multiple days in a row. Like, I’m ready to read and I’ll read my ten pages and then have to completely reset? Momentum killer, completely. Also, difficult to write any sort of coherent review. Sorta sorry).


I don’t know why we pretend like we value physical books. The bookstore put a big ass sticker on the cover of this proclaiming their price to be cheaper than the publisher’s suggest price and drew a red line across the bottom of the pages as well. And I know it’s a collection, so thereby “worth” less or whatever, but come on. It’s still pretty standard fare for indies to write (in pencil, granted, but pencil’s not 100% erasable all the time) their prices inside the cover.


Thought for sure “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” would end in an epic battle over the woman. Like leader took off her arm or narrator did. I know it’s hard to end short stories, but “they were sand and scared of being attacked” doesn’t feel like where this is headed.


“The Father’s Blessing” might be the most disturbing thing I’ve ever read.


“You Drive”–Writing Vollmanesque and kinda obtusely doesn’t make incest any more acceptable. Unless that’s not what’s going on. Who knows! Short stories don’t need to explain themselves!


“Two Brothers”–Why couldn’t the dog have at least growled at the boys? I feel so fucking shitty (also, didn’t phase me at all when boys shot a man. Yeah, different circumstances (man came to boys’ door, shot in stomach. Boys searched out dog, shot in eye graphically. But still, dogs are better than people).


“Tiny, Smiling Daddy”–“Now she was a vibrant imp, living, it seemed, in a world constructed of topsy-turvy junk pasted with rhinestones.” Absolutely San Francisco in your twenties.


“Brief Interview With Hideous Men” This story is the only reason I finished. Allowed me to power through the rest. Inspired #PostModernCosmoHeadlines, which, like all my genius twitter gimmicks, went nowhere.

“‘What modern feminists-slash-postfeminists will say they want is mutuality and respect of their individual autonomy. If sex is going to happen, they’ll say, it has to be by mutual consensus and desire between two autonomous equals who are each equally responsible for their own sexuality and its expression’

‘That’s almost word for word what I’ve heard them say.’

‘And it’s total horseshit.'”

I would write out this whole conversation, but I think that’d be illegal so just read it from its original source.


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