BASS 2010 – Final Thoughts, and what’s next: 2011 PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories

Now that I’ve read BASS 2010 in its entirety, I’ve put together some overall notes.

Stories I found to be amazingly wonderful:
Kevin Moffett, “Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events

Stories that made me shake my head and wonder why they were included:
Ron Rash, “The Ascent
Wells Tower, “Raw Water

Authors I’ve read more of since reading their stories here:
Jim Shepard, “The Netherlands Lives With Water” (I’ve read two – well, one and a half – collections)
Joshua Ferris, “The Valetudinarian” (I didn’t see the greatness in the story, but kept reading how it was a disappointment from his debut novel so I read it – and I agree)
Steve Almond, “Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched” (I’ve read his non-fiction, already read a tiny flash/essay collection and a short story collection)
James Lasdun, “The Hollow” (read “It’s Beginning to Hurt“, a story that appeared online)
Ron Rash, “The Ascent” (“The Trusty” appeared in The New Yorker; I liked it better)
Rebecca Makkai, “Painted Ocean, Painted Ship” (“Peter Torrelli Falling Apart” was in my first issue of Tin House and I’m glad; it will be included in BASS 2011)

Authors I plan to read more of:
Charles Baxter, “The Cousins” (though I’m still intimidated)
Kevin Moffett, “Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events
Wells Tower, “Raw Water” (because he must be better than that story)
Danielle Evans, “Someone Ought To Tell Her…” because she’s got chops at a young age.
Brendan Mathews, “…Lion Tamer” because Zin loved it.

Journals represented by multiple stories:
Tin House (4)
McSweeney’s (3)
The Atlantic (3)
The New Yorker (2)

Men wrote 11, women wrote 9 of these stories.
Stories by writers of color: 1 (I think; I’m not 100% positive, if anyone knows differently, please let me know).
Stories by writers born outside the US: 2 (one London, one Yugoslavia; Wells Tower was born in Vancouver but says he grew up in NC so I haven’t counted him)
Oldest author: 64 (Charles Baxter)
Youngest Author: 26 (Tea Obreht)

Stories with non-traditional narrative structure: 1(Jill McCorkle, “PS” uses a letter)
Stories primarily based on humor: 2 (Joshua Ferris, “The Valetudinarian” and Jill McCorkle, “PS”. YMMV.)
Stories set outside the US: 5 – Africa (2), France, Australia, The Netherlands
Stories set entirely outside of the present time: 4 (The Depression, WWII, Near Past, Near Future)

Per the editor: “New” authors: 5 (Harrison, Mathews, Obreht, Ostlund, Shipstead).

So now we move on to the 2011 PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories. Zin’s workshop is reading it, so I’ll follow along.

2 responses to “BASS 2010 – Final Thoughts, and what’s next: 2011 PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories

  1. My favorites were Kevin Moffett and “Delicate Edible Birds” by Lauren Groff – she did such a good job of turning everyone against each other little by little. I agree with being disappointed with Raw Water and The Ascent. I read plenty more short stories last year that I felt were more deserving to be included in this collection.

    • I was iffy about “Delicate Edible Birds” but I did read a Martha Gellman biography because of it. And I was thrilled to read about the orlaton ritual – I’d just read about it in Anthony Bourdain’s book.


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