The Best American Short Stories 2011 is a collection of short stories selected by Geraldine Brooks. The stories range from a scifi story about a love drug to a whole town hibernating every winter. There are some stories that stick out boldly such as ‘The Sleep’ by Caitlin Horrocks, ‘Out of Body’ by Jennifer Egan, ‘Phantoms’ by Steven Millhause, and ‘Dog Bites’ by Ricardo Nuila. Though, I was underwhelmed by the more well-known authors in this collection such as Joyce Carol Oates and George Saunders. Oates’s story focuses on a daughter who can’t identify her mother’s body, and while an interesting premise, I didn’t enjoy the voice. It wasn’t as vibrant or as specific as other authors. And George Saunders’s story about the love drug opened too quickly and the drug names/scenes fell too easily within scifi tropes for it to land or for me to take it seriously. Though, I think ‘Out of Body’ was a gem in the way it dealt with suicide, friendships, college, and relationships. It was also interesting to see that within the Contributor notes, many of the stories came directly from personal experience.
Final Rating: 3/5
Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.