Masterplots II: Short Story Series

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9781587651403: Masterplots II: Short Story Series
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Reference materials on short stories for teachers and libraries. This edition incorporates all the articles from the original six-volume set and four-volume supplement and adds 250 essays. It is organized in the standard Masterplots form, with articles aranged alphabetically by story title.

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This revised edition of Masterplots 2: Short Story Series (Salem, 1986) incorporates all the articles from the original set and the 4-volume supplement (1996), adding an additional 250 new essays for a total of 1,490 articles. Each signed entry is arranged alphabetically by short story title and averages 1,500 words in length. Entries begin with the following background facts about the story: author name, type of plot, time period of the story, location, original publication date, and a list of principal characters. This is followed by a plot summary, a discussion of themes and meanings, and a discussion of style and technique. Coverage focuses heavily on North American authors, although there is also representation from other regions, including Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and New Zealand. Coverage of stories by modern authors originally appearing in publications like the New Yorker, such as Matthew Klam and David Schickler, is sometimes surprisingly included along with the expected classics. Every volume has a comprehensive title index, and the final volume has a bibliography of monographs and periodicals for both general short story studies and individual authors represented by at least five stories. New to the revised edition is a glossary with 135 terms, a chronological list of titles, a geographical index, and a type of plot index.

As with all Masterplots series, coverage is uneven depending on the contributor and can at times seem simplistic or one-dimensional. Still, because there are so few short story aids available, this update is a welcome thing. Editor May discusses the short story's struggle for survival in the modern publishing world in his introduction, and this is certainly reflected in the paucity of reference sources on the form. Gale's Short Story Criticism (serial) offers a more comprehensive biocritical survey of its included authors, along with excerpts from serious criticism, but is often limited in its amount of information about an individual title. Likewise, the Critical Survey of Short Fiction (2d ed., Salem, 2001) places each author in a broader context and seldom devotes as much attention to individual stories. Readers who want merely, as May suggests in his introduction, an "overview, a context, and a perspective" with which to read an individual short story will find Masterplots 2: Short Story Series extremely helpful. Recommended for public, high-school, and undergraduate libraries; libraries already owning the previous set will want to update. Susan Gardner
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From School Library Journal:

Grade 9 Up–This update of the Masterplots II: Short Story Series (Salem, 1986) collects all of the material from the original set and its four supplements, and adds 250 new entries. Spanning almost 300 years of fictive fine point (from Daniel Defoe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe to Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, and Alice Munro), and covering 1490 short stories, this exemplary set brings together a massive compendium of clear, to-the-point analysis, helpful to readers struggling with a story and those who just want to know a little more. Nearly half of the entries cover the work of North American writers. The articles are arranged alphabetically by title and are divided into three parts: a two- to three-page plot summary, a discussion of "Themes and Meaning," and an often shorter discussion of "Style and Technique." Each entry begins with a list noting author, plot type, time period, locale, and year of publication, followed by a list of the principal characters. A glossary, general and individual author bibliographies, a chronological list of titles, and four indexes conclude the set. This cornucopia of critical candor will be a standard reference for years to come.–Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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