New American Stories is an anthology out now in enormous paperback from Vintage. The collection was collected by collector Ben Marcus. An excerpt from his introduction:
Language is a drug, but a short story cannot be smoked. You can’t inject it. Stories don’t come bottled as a cream. You cannot have a story massaged into you by a bearish old man. You have to stare down a story until it wobbles, yields, then catapults into your face. And yet, as squirrely as they are to capture, stories are the ideal deranger. If they are well made, and you submit to them, they go in clean. Stories deliver their chemical disruption without the ashy hangover, the blacking out, the poison. They trigger pleasure, fear, fascination, love, confusion, desire, repulsion. Drugs get flushed from our systems, but not the best stories. Once they take hold, you couldn’t scrape them out with a knife. While working on this book, I started to think of a it as a medicine chest, filled with beguiling, volatile material, designed by the most gifted technicians. The potent story writers, to me, are the ones who deploy language as a kind of contraband, pumping it into us until we collapse on the floor, writhing, overwhelmed with feeling.
You actually can smoke a short story, but to do so is inadvisable.
I’ll be riffing on the book over the next few weeks with our Correspondent in Colorado, Mr. Ryan Chang.
Here’s the tracklist:
Said Sayrafiezadeh, Paranoia
Rebecca Lee, Slatland
Jesse Ball, The Early Deaths of Lubeck, Brennan, Harp, and Carr
Deborah Eisenberg, Some Other, Better Otto
Anthony Doerr, The Deep
Yiyun Li, A Man Like Him
George Saunders, Home
NoViolet Bulawayo, Shhh
Maureen McHugh, Special Economics
Sam Lipsyte, This Appointment Occurs in the Past
Lydia Davis, Men
Donald Antrim, Another Manhattan
Zadie Smith*, Meet the President!
Denis Johnson, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
Joy Williams, The Country
Christine Schutt, A Happy Rural Seat of Various View Lucinda’s Garden
Don DeLillo, Hammer and Sickle
Mathias Svalina, Play
Lucy Corin, Madmen
Mary Gaitskill, The Arms and Legs of the Lake
Wells Tower, Raw Water
Rachel Glaser, Pee on Water
Tao Lin, Love is a Thing on Sale for More Money than There Exists
Rebecca Curtis, The Toast
Robert Coover, Going for a Beer
Charles Yu, Standard Loneliness Package
Deb Olin Unferth, Wait Till You See Me Dance
Kyle Coma-Thompson, The Lucky Body
Rivka Galchen, The Lost Order
Donald Ray Pollack, Fish Sticks
Kelly Link, Valley of the Girls
Claire Vaye Watkins, The Diggings
*Isn’t she English? I guess it’s the stories that are American.