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About the book
  • Published: 14 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9780141194424
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 282
  • RRP: $19.99

The New Penguin Book Of American Short Stories, From Washington Irving To Lydia Davis


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The short story is one of the most varied and exciting genres in American literature. This collection brings together many of its finest examples from the early nineteenth century to the present. It contains a richly diverse cast of characters, including convicts, artists, farm labourers, slaves, soldiers and salesmen, witches and ghosts, families and lovers. Their stories are told by some of America's most celebrated writers (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edith Wharton, Raymond Carver) and a few, like Fanny Fern or Charles W. Chestnutt, who may be less familiar. The collection offers a stimulating combination of acknowledged classics, including Mark Twain's hilarious 'Jim Smiley's Jumping Frog' and Edgar Allan Poe's chilling 'The Tell-Tale Heart', and some remarkable pieces that deserve a wider audience, such as Ernest Hemingway's story of miscommunication, 'Out of Season', or Lorrie Moore's tale of modern love and wit, 'Starving Again'.
Kasia Boddy's introduction traces the history of the American short story and explores the changes and continuities in its forms and preoccupations. This edition also contains a chronology, explanatory and biographical notes and suggestions for further reading.
Table of contents
Washington Irving - The Little Man in Black (1807)
Nathaniel Hawthorne - Young Goodman Brown (1835)
Edgar Allan Poe - The Tell-Tale Heart (1843)
Fanny Fern - Aunt Hetty on Matrimony (1851)
Mark Twain - Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog (1865)
Joel Chandler Harris - The Tar Baby Story (1880)
Mary Wilkins Freeman - Two Friends (1887)
Charles W. Chesnutt - The Wife of his Youth (1898)
Henry James - The Real Right Thing (1899)
Stephen Crane - An Episode of War (1899)
O. Henry - Hearts and Hands (1903)
Sherwood Anderson - The Untold Lie (1917)
Ernest HemingwayOut of Season (1923)
Edith Wharton - Atrophy (1927)
Dorothy Parker - New York to Detroit (1928)
Eudora Welty - The Whistle (1938)
William Faulkner - Barn Burning (1939)
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Lost Decade (1939)
Zora Neale Hurston - Now You Cookin' with Gas (1942)
Bernard Malamud - The First Seven Years (1950)
Flannery O'Connor - A Late Encounter with the Enemy (1953)
John Updike - Sunday Teasing (1956)
John Cheever - Reunion (1962)
Grace Paley - Wants (1971)
Alice Walker - The Flowers (1973)
Donald Barthelme - I Bought a Little City (1974)
Raymond Carver - Collectors (1975)
Richard Ford - Communist (1985)
Lorrie Moore - Starving Again (1990)
Jhumpa Lahiri - The Third and Final Continent (1999)
Lydia Davis - The Caterpillar (2006)

  • Pub date: 14 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9780141194424
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 282
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Authors

Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and several collections of short fiction, the latest of which is Samuel Johnson Is Indignant. She is also the translator of numerous works from the French by, among others, Maurice Blanchot, Pierre Jean Jouve and Michel Leiris, and was recently named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899. His father was a doctor and he was the second of six children. Their home was at Oak Park, a Chicago suburb.

In 1917, Hemingway joined the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. The following year, he volunteered as an ambulance driver on the Italian front, where he was badly wounded but decorated for his services. He returned to America in 1919, and married in 1921. In 1922, he reported on the Greco-Turkish war before resigning from journalism to devote himself to fiction. He settled in Paris where he renewed his earlier friendships with such fellow-American expatriates as Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. Their encouragement and criticism were to play a valuable part in the formation of his style.

Hemingway's first two published works were Three Stories and Ten Poems and In Our Time but it was the satirical novel, The Torrents of Spring, that established his name more widely. His international reputation was firmly secured by his next three books; Fiesta, Men Without Women and A Farewell to Arms.

He was passionately involved with bullfighting, big-game hunting and deep-sea fishing and his writing reflected this. He visited Spain during the Civil War and described his experiences in the bestseller, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

His direct and deceptively simple style of writing spawned generations of imitators but no equals. Recognition of his position in contemporary literature came in 1954 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, following the publication of The Old Man and the Sea. He died in 1961.

Washington Irving

Washington Irving (1783 – 1859) was born into a rich New York family, the youngest of eleven children. He was named after the great future American President, George Washington. Young Washington's early education was patchy but he developed an early love for books and writing. As an adult he didn't have to worry about earning a living and after practising law for a few years he began to write for newspapers and magazines. His first book, Knickerbocker's History of New York (1809), was the first American humorous book which was also literature. It was a great success but Irving continued to be only a part-time writer.

In 1815 he moved to London to manage the British end of the family business and stayed for seventeen years. When the family business collapsed in 1817, He had to make a living for the first time. The immediate result was The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent which contained his two most famous fantasy stories, Rip van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. These classic stories have kept Washington Irving's name alive. He is often called 'the father of American literature' because of the charm and style of his writing and because he was always breaking new ground.


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