Magill's Choice: Short Story Writers Review

“For this first new edition in 10 years (previous ed., CH, Feb'98, 35-3072), the editors of Short Story Writers have worked with 170 scholars to add 44 new articles and update many of the 102 original entries. A time line takes readers from the birth of Boccaccio in 1313 to the birth of Sherman Alexie in 1966. Each article reviews the works of the author, provides biographical information, and presents a critical analysis of a selection of the author's significant works. Bibliographies of secondary sources include about ten citations, fully annotated. Many of these bibliographies have been updated. Although most authors included in this set are part of the modern tradition of short story writing, the editors provide historical context by including articles on Boccaccio, Chaucer, the Grimms, and important 19th-century authors. Most of the writers in this solid selection come from the US, and there is a thoughtful selection of writers from other countries. This book will serve readers in public and school libraries, teachers of literature, and lower-level undergraduate course work. Summing Up: Recommended. First-year undergraduates and general readers.”

“This is a useful reference tool for school, public, and undergraduate collections.”

“…The organization remains the same, providing the reader with an alphabetic listing of the authors (by last name) and continuous pagination. Following a factual listing of biographical information and principle short fiction, each entry offers an essay that examines other literary forms (such as novels or poetry), achievements (during their lifetimes, after their deaths), and a biography. An analysis of the author's work is the fourth element of the essay's template. The analysis is twofold: the first part serves as an introduction to the selected stories in the second part, presenting the reader with a brief overview of the writer's background and the themes used in his/her work.

The critiques that follow the first part illustrate how the writers made use of their own background and how, with each story, the themes and styles they worked with as they practiced their craft became their trademark, their signature. The critiques of "Bartleby the Scrivener" and "The Fiddler," for example, follow the analysis of Herman Melville's financial motivations and artistic strategy when he began writing short stories such as featured examples. The author of the entry weaves a narrative that directs the reader to a glimpse of the biographical and historical information, stressing the importance of examining those factors when interpreting an author's intent. The analysis, demonstrates to the reader what should be sought for in short story to pay special heed to what is not said in the narration. Each entry, like Melville's, concludes with a listing of other major works and an annotated bibliography. Volume 3 contains a glossary of literary terms and techniques, a timeline of the evolution of the short story (beginning with Giovanni Baccaccio and Geoffrey Chaucer), and an index.”