Best American Short Stories

For the first part of this summer — before I start work at a temporary Johns Hopkins’ job — I’m reading through multiple Best American Short Story anthologies. Each volume contains twenty stories in their entirety and mentions one hundred other distinguished stories of the past year. Around three thousand published stories are whittled down by the series editor and then the guest editor selects the final one hundred and twenty. The commercial magazines and literary journals from which the stories are chosen includes: the famous (The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s), the established (The Paris Review, Agni, Ploughshares), the university-based (The Minnesota Review, The Indiana Review) the challenging (Conjunctions), and the less well known (Upstreet, Kestrel) and many, many others.

The series has been running since 1915 and has reprinted some of the finest and most widely anthologized work in American literary history. Working through the volumes from the 1980s (more on them in a later post) I noticed many writers and magazines I’d never heard of. Many of the writers were supremely accomplished; yet through various factors, including my lack of knowledge about the eighties writing scene, these writers have faded from public life. Whether through death, retirement, or literary tastes changing, other writers have taken their places.

It’s my aim to read the volumes 2010-1980 this summer. That’s 600 stories! My wish is to pick up some of the finer points of craft and gain a few answers on the eternal question: what makes a short story? And more importantly, what makes a good short story? By the time of the hundredth Best American anniversary arrives in 2015, I hope to place at least one story in that top one hundred and twenty of the year’s best.

Below I note the books I’ve read so far and the stories that leave me in awe:

The Best American Short Stories 2010

Standout stories: Marlin Barton’s “Into Silence” and Maggie Shipstead’s “The Cowboy Tango.”

The Best American Short Stories 2008

Standout stories: Nicol Krauss’ “From the Desk of Daniel Varsky” and Katie Chase’s “Man and Wife.”

The Best American Short Stories 2007

Standout stories: Lauren Groff’s “L. Debard and Aliette: A Love Story” and Mary Gordon’s “Eleanor’s Music.”

The Best American Short Stories 1995

Standout stories: Andrea Barrett’s “The Behavior of the Hawkweeds” and Don DeLillo’s “The Angel Esmeralda.”

Interestingly, there was one writer — Andrew Cozine — in this edition who seems to have completely disappeared. When the story was published (first in the Iowa Review), Cozine was an MFA student at Columbia. A Google search revealed no other published stories by him or any clues to what happened to him. Perhaps he changed his name? Or became disenchanted with the publishing world? Or something sadder? If anyone knows what happened to Andrew Cozine, post a response, or send me an email at clinfor (at) vt (dot) edu

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9 thoughts on “Best American Short Stories

  1. RE: Best American Short Stories 1995 – Andrew Cozine.

    Andrew is up in Seattle working in the tech field last I heard. He did some film work for Tromeo studios after the book was published and then got out of writing. I’m the Brad Hubert that is mentioned in the story. Andrew and I went to elementary school together.

  2. My Father Andrew Cozine now lives in Portland Oregon. He continues to write stories. (Although very few get published). He has lived in Oregon for 7 years and is a Postal Carrier part time. If you would like to contact him email me at bcozine100@gmail.com! Thanks for your interest in my father!

    Sincerely,

    Ben

  3. I know this post was written several years ago so I have no idea if you’ll see this but Andy Cozine is one of my very best friends (we went to Colorado College together) and Ben, as well as his brother Will, are great kids who have both inherited their dad’s smarts in different ways. Andy still writes pretty much every day and is working on a couple of very intriguing projects – I hope they see the light of day sometime soon.

    Just as a side note – before Andy ended up in BASS or went to Columbia, my grandfather started a short story competition at Colorado College. Andy (who was my roommate at the time) won it the first year as a junior. My grandfather was so horrified by the content of the story (let’s face it, he was an elitist prick) he withdrew his financial support for the prize. So someone else picked it up the next year. Andy submitted 2 stories our senior year. Names were removed from the stories so as not to influence the judges or something, and he actually come in first AND second. Great guy, great family, great writer!

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