The Best American Short Stories 2013 (Paperback)
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From the Publisher:
Edited by the best-selling and Pulitzer Prize?winning author Elizabeth Strout, this year?s collection boasts a satisfying ?chorus of twenty stories that are by turns playful, ironic, somber, and meditative? (Wall Street Journal). With the masterly Strout picking the best of the best, America?s oldest and best-selling story anthology offers the traditonal pleasures of storytelling in voices that are thoroughly contemporary.
While she cites the work of John Cheever, Oscar Hijuelos, and Alice Munro among her literary inspirations, the most readily identifiable influence on Elizabeth Strout's work would seem to be her childhood in New England. She was born in Portland, Maine in 1956, and though Strout and her family frequently changed homes while she was growing up, they always remained in the neighboring states of Maine and New Hampshire. Not surprisingly, her first three novels prominently feature small New England towns as their settings. After attending Bates College in Maine, Strout spent a year at Oxford before returning to the states to study law at Syracuse. Despite graduating from law school with honors, she immediately focused on establishing a writing career by sending her work to various magazines and literary journals. Diligence has been a mark of Strout's career: she spent more than five years writing each of her first two novels, AMY AND ISABELLE, which won her the LA Times Art Seidenbaum award for best first fiction, and ABIDE BY ME, which garnered similar critical success. Her breakthrough came with 2008's OLIVE KITTERIDGE, a collection of short stories that circle around a retired schoolteacher in Crosby, Maine, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.