Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story
A New York Magazine Best Book of the Year
A Huffington Post Best Book of the Year
Twenty contemporary authors introduce twenty sterling examples of the short story from the pages of The Paris Review.
What does it take to write a great short story? In Object Lessons, twenty contemporary masters of the genre answer that question, sharing favorite stories from the pages of The Paris Review. Over the course of the last half century, the Review has launched hundreds of careers while publishing some of the most inventive and best-loved stories of our time. This anthology---the first of its kind---is more than a treasury: it is an indispensable resource for writers, students, and anyone else who wants to understand fiction from a writer's point of view.
"Some chose classics. Some chose stories that were new even to us. Our hope is that this collection will be useful to young writers, and to others interested in literary technique. Most of all, it is intended for readers who are not (or are no longer) in the habit of reading short stories. We hope these object lessons will remind them how varied the form can be, how vital it remains, and how much pleasure it can give."―from the Editors' Note
WITH SELECTIONS BY
Daniel Alarcón · Donald Barthelme · Ann Beattie · David Bezmozgis · Jorge Luis Borges · Jane Bowles · Ethan Canin · Raymond Carver · Evan S. Connell · Bernard Cooper · Guy Davenport · Lydia Davis · Dave Eggers · Jeffrey Eugenides · Mary Gaitskill · Thomas Glynn · Aleksandar Hemon · Amy Hempel · Mary-Beth Hughes · Denis Johnson · Jonathan Lethem · Sam Lipsyte · Ben Marcus · David Means · Leonard Michaels · Steven Millhauser · Lorrie Moore · Craig Nova · Daniel Orozco · Mary Robison · Norman Rush · James Salter · Mona Simpson · Ali Smith · Wells Tower · Dallas Wiebe · Joy Williams
home checking steadily to see that everything was as it should be. She glanced into the bathrooms every few minutes and found that the guest towels, which resembled pastel handkerchiefs, were still immaculately overlapping one another on the rack—at evening’s end only three had been disturbed—and she entered the kitchen once to recommend that the extra servant girl, hired to assist Hazel, pin shut the gap in the breast of her starched uniform. Through the silver candelabra and miniature turkey
the quiet settled in, that my mother probably didn’t have much cash on her either. Didn’t matter. First I’d find her, and then, once she was appropriately dressed, we’d hitchhike our way to Faye’s guest cottage. Was it an hour? It’s hard to know in the dark. But eventually, when she didn’t show up, I began the long walk past the cornfields to her house. I was shivering though the weather was balmy, and I was hungry. Each lumpy-looking shadow made me afraid I might find her lying by the side of
of those hired to “watch” the “picture.” “All this literary criticism,” Elspeth said to Paul. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I like it. I don’t know if it pleases me.” They regarded the Ankara critic on the shelf. IV Paul stood before a fence in Luxembourg. The fence was covered with birds. Their problem, in many ways a paradigm of their own, was to “fly.” “The engaging and wholly charming way I stand in front of this fence here,” Paul said to himself, “will soon persuade someone to discover
and drunk—dancing together. The critic Hugh Kenner once made the point that the short story—starting perhaps with Hemingway, or perhaps Joyce—went from being mainly an entertainment convention to a form of high art. (I shudder at the phrase high art as much as anyone, but there’s no other way to put it.) At that point, the short story began to lean on poetics, to demand as much of the reader as the writer. The old adage—everything matters!—became deeply true when it came to reading a story. For
in the autumn after his father had been delivered to office on the shoulders of southern patricians frightened by the unionization of steel and mines. Sedgewick appeared in my classroom in November of 1945, in a short-pants suit. It was midway through the fall term, that term in which I brought the boys forth from the philosophical idealism of the Greeks, into the realm of commerce, military might and the law, which had given Julius Caesar his prerogative from Macedonia to Seville. My students,