'The New Yorker Stories' by Ann Beattie

Between the presidencies of Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford (1974) and George W. Bush (2006), Ann Beattie published 48 stories in The New Yorker, one of which was included in "The Best American Short Stories of the Century." These stories are collected in this single, chronologically organized volume, "The New Yorker Stories," and are amplified by an excerpt of a wonderful interview with Beattie (conducted by Christopher Cox) that recently appeared in The Paris Review and illuminates the arc of her career.

Beattie's voice, and concerns, evolve over the decades. Her early stories are distinguished by their minimalism, which was so imitated by a generation of writers. Her first story in the volume, "A Platonic Relationship," is about a woman who leaves her suburban house and lawyer husband for a job as a high school music teacher, living in a house with "splintery floors that had to be covered by rugs." The last stories in the volume are of later life concerns — Alzheimer's disease, disappointment with children. Together they feel like an intimate, and urgent, set of dispatches from the emotional front of the past, one we might have neglected, repressed or forgotten without Beattie's imagination.

'The New Yorker Stories'
By Ann Beattie
Scribner, 514 pages (paperback), $18

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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