Short fiction: Classic and contemporary

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9780138092290: Short fiction: Classic and contemporary

This important anthology is an exceptionally wide-ranging alphabetically arranged collection that includes writers of the 19th and 20th centuries and spans all genres of short fiction. It covers myth, fairy tale, humor, western, detective, science fiction, gothic, fantasy, and folktale. Designed to familiarize readers with major writers and differing approaches to the art of storytelling, the book also helps to familiarize readers with literary elements and demonstrate that this familiarity can be useful in understanding the dynamics of novels, films, and other genres. The book presents a range of perspectives with stories from a variety of countries as well as a significant representation of women writers. The fourth edition of Short Fiction has been revised to humanize writers by presenting them as real people doing real work. The book also now includes writing by authors who have contributed to AmericaUs literary heritage such as Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving, and Langston Hughes as well as writings by contemporary authors such as Dorothy Allison, Bobbie Ann Mason, and John Wideman, among others. It also now includes more works by other authors including Margaret Atwood, Anton Chekov, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, Jamaica Kincaid, Alice Munro, Edgar Allan Poe, and Alice Walker. There is also a greater representation of stories on The Holocaust and the Vietnam War. It presents more diverse material in the RWriters on WritingS section and the latest material in the RWriting About FictionS section. An essential reference for every writer, both those who write professionally and those who write purely for the pleasure of it.

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From the Publisher:

This exceptionally wide-ranging alphabetically arranged collection of stories includes writers of the 19th and 20th centuries and spans all genres of short fiction -- myth, fairy tale, humor, western, detective, science fiction, gothic, fantasy, and folktale. The selections include both acclaimed masterpieces, widely recognized as essential to any introduction to the genres, as well as more than 40 stories by highly regarded contemporary authors.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Throughout the process of preparing this new edition, I have had before me, always within easy reach, all the previous editions of Charles Bohner's Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary. While the goal for this edition has been to expand the book's usefulness for the contemporary college and university classroom, I knew that Charles Bohner (1927-1995) gave to this anthology an original purpose that is still strong and vital. Styles in fiction may change; styles in pedagogy may change. However, what makes a story powerful or what makes a classroom meaningful remains essential, even as vogues and movements come and go. Whether we are talking about fiction or classrooms, a moving idea and an original presentation are the sources for enjoyment and learning.

I have been using this text in my courses since the late 1980s, and it has always met my needs as an instructor. I've yet to meet a group of students who didn't thrill to "A&P," "The Lottery," "Young Goodman Brown," "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Story of an Hour," "Araby," "Hills Like White Elephants," "The Chrysanthemums," "The Cask of Amontillado," "A Worn Path," "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," and "The Man Who Was Almost a Man," just to name a dozen of the short stories that comprise a kind of pedagogical canon. So this new edition remains much the same in that it includes richly powerful short stories from nineteenth and twentieth centuries from the United States, Canada, England, Europe, Russia, Africa, Japan, and Central and South America-89 writers from the previous edition. In fact, 64 of the 80 writers that Charles Bohner chose for the first edition are still included in this, the fifth edition. I believe that any instructor will find a large number of his or her longtime favorites.

But a good deal has happened in fiction and in teaching since the 1980s. And in this revision, I have tried to include some of the changes that struck me as positive. One of those, which previous editions reflected, is the inclusion of women and writers of color. I have attempted to continue that movement with the inclusion of Isabel Allende, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Leslie Dick, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Mary Gaitskill, Susan Glaspell, Gish Jen, Mary Shelley, Leslie Marmon Siko, Susan Sontag, Jeanette Winterson, Sherman Alexie, Julio Cortazar, Carlos Fuentes, Ernest J. Games, Dagoberto Gilb, Hanif Kureishi, Tomas Rivera, and Salman Rushdie. This new edition also adds writers who are openly gay and lesbian or who write about gay and lesbian issues: Castillo, Winterson, David Leavitt, and Reynolds Price, plus a new "Writers on Writing" selection by Dorothy Allison.

In another area, I felt the anthology was about to fall out of step concerning the age of its writers. It was beginning to look like "contemporary" short fiction was by writers born between 1920 and 1945. In the first edition, Perri Klass, born in 1958, was the youngest writer. In the fourth edition, Perri Klass was still the youngest writer. In this new edition, instead of there being four writers born from 1950 forward (as in the fourth edition), there are now well over a dozen, with several born in the 1960s. I believe their inclusion will be welcomed as their work expands not only the subject matter of short fiction, but also the technique and tonal range. Many instructors, like me, will remember when Raymond Carver and Bobbie Anne Mason were the newest thing in town. No more, it seems time to make room for Alexie, Gaitskill, Wallace, and Winterson.

Finally, I have tried to effect a minor shift in the overall feel of the anthology. In looking at previous editions of this book and at other anthologies, I began to sense, how else can I phrase it, a lessening of intellectual rigor and emotional complexity. For this reason, I have included such writers as Cortazar, Dick, Kundera, Rushdie, de Sade, Sartre, Sontag, Wallace, and Winterson. I wish I could have included more. Also included are eight writers featured as "Writers in Depth." Each of these eight writers is represented with three short stories and at least one "Context: Writers on Writing" selection. This feature allows the teacher to focus on the work of one writer, or taken together present a tour of the short story from nineteenth-century Poe, Chekhov, and Chopin to early modernism in Kafka to late twentieth-century American literature in Ellison, Rivera, Walker, and Silko.

Last, many new features have been added to the text. Two sections, those covering the elements of fiction and writing about fiction, have been rewritten and revised. The section concerning the elements of fiction now includes passages of annotated short stories, illustrating how such matters as characterization or setting occur in fiction. The explanation of writing about fiction now includes material concerning researching writers and fiction. Also included are discussions and examples of various purposes in writing about fiction, including sample essays. In addition, two new sections have been added to the anthology. The first concerns the process of reading short fiction, understanding what readers bring to a story, placing a short story in context with other fictional works, and reacting to works of fiction. The second presents the established schools of literary criticism, from New Criticism to Ecocriticism to Post-Structuralism.

In short, in revising this classic text, I have attempted to make it even more useful for the contemporary reader and classroom. Its features include:

  • thirty-two new writers, including 14 women and 24 contemporary writers, including eight born after 1960.
  • twenty-two new selections in "Context: Writers on Writing."
  • eight Writers in Depth, highlighting Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka, Kate Chopin, Ralph Ellison, Tomas Rivera, Alice Walker, and Leslie Marmon S91ko. Each of these writers are featured with three stories and at least one selection in "Context: Writers on Writing."
  • three links to examples of hypertext fiction can be accessed by web address included in table of contents or through the anthology's web site.
  • two new sections: "Reading Fiction" and "Approaching Fiction Critically." Responses, suggested writing topics, follows Questions.
  • Redesigned Table of Contents, linking stories with selections from "Context: Writers on Writing."
  • Revised "Introduction to Short Fiction," featuring annotated selections, highlighting plot, character, conflict, setting, point of view, language, and tone.
  • Revised "Writing About Fiction," including information on research, and sample essays for summaries, analysis, evaluation, and researched essay.
  • Updated author biographies.
  • Anthology website for the text, providing many links to information about short fiction, the writers, and the short stories; the web site address is
  • Updated Instructor's Manual, available from Prentice Hall by request.

As we all know, behind any effort such as this one are many people who need to be thanked. Wives and families are always acknowledged last, but I want to thank Colleen, Jacob, and Will first. There is no way that working on a book such as this, after a full day of teaching, does not cut into time that rightfully belongs to the family. You all have been very understanding and supportive.

I also want to thank several of my colleagues at Austin Community College, some of whom I have worked with for over twenty years: Hazel Ward, Joe Lostracco, Lennis Polnac, Bill Durham, Joe Hoppe, Judy Sanders, Paula Robertson Rose, Prudence Arceneaux, and Chris Webb. Many of their suggestions have improved this book directly and powerfully.

I also want to thank Savannah Mayfield and Rich Perrin, former students, for their suggestions and advice. To Sue Burns at Book Woman, thanks for directing me to Jeanette Winterson. To Erich Schliebe, my nephew, now a graduate student in English, thank you for your computer searches—for every writer in this book, I might add. Great work!

I would like to thank the administration of Austin Community College, who granted me a leave of absence and a sabbatical to complete this text and to teach and complete some course work at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M University I would like to thank Jimmie Killingsworth, Paul Christensen, and Tom Murphy and the other folks at the Brazos River Review.

I also want to thank the NEH and Mark Busby at Southwest Texas State University. I was privileged to spend the month of June 2000 in San Marcos, Texas, studying the history, geography, anthropology, music, art, and literature of the Southwest in a Summer Faculty Institute titled Traversing Borders. Mark Busby put together a wonderfully educational seminar. I would like to thank all my fellow participants in this institute, but would especially like to thank Jesse Aleman (University of New Mexico), Patrick Duffy (Austin College), Amy Gilmour (St. Mary's University), David Lee (Southern Utah University), Patricia Price (Florida International University), Don Scheese (Gustavus Adlophus College), John Wegner (Angelo State University), and Kathleen Wright (Orange County Community College). In our conversations, they probably had no idea how much they were contributing. I must, however, like to single out Stephen Swords of Eastern Illinois University. Nothing beats talking literature with someone who has fire in his belly and light in his eyes.

I have also been privileged to work with the very talented editors at Prentice Hall. Many thanks to Carrie Brandon for her trust, support, and vision for this book.

Thanks also to Craig Campanella and to Leah Jewell for their support and expertise on this project and on Commonsense: A Handbook and Guide for Writers.

Finally, a thank you to all my students. Everyone—professional educators, parents, newspaper pundits—has a pet theory ab...

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Charles H. Bohner
Published by Prentice Hall (1989)
ISBN 10: 013809229X ISBN 13: 9780138092290
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