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The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

Second Edition

Edited by Joyce Carol Oates

Publication Date - August 2012

ISBN: 9780199744398

896 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

A new and extensively revised edition of a matchless anthology of American short stores, compiled by one of the masters of the genre, Joyce Carol Oates


In The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Joyce Carol Oates offers a sweeping survey of American short fiction, in a collection of nearly sixty tales that combines classic works with many "different, unexpected" gems, and that invites readers to explore a wealth of important pieces by women and minority writers.

Some selections simply can't be improved on, Oates admits, and she happily includes such time-honored works as Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." But alongside these often-anthologized tales, Oates introduces such little-known stories as Mark Twain's "Cannibalism in the Cars," a work that reveals a darker side to his humor. From Melville come the juxtaposed tales "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," of which Oates says, "only Melville could have fashioned out of 'real' events...such harrowing and dreamlike allegorical fiction." The reader will also delight in the range of authors found here, from Charles W. Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, and Sarah Orne Jewett, to William Carlos Williams, Kate Chopin, and Langston Hughes, to Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

For the second edition, Oates has introduced a wide range of new stories from writers who represent the state of American literature today. These new works include Lorrie Moore's "How to Become a Writer," Richard Ford's "Under the Radar," Junot Diaz's "Edison, New Jersey," David Foster Wallace's "Good People," Philip Roth's "Defender of the Faith," and Amy Hempel's "Today Will Be a Quiet Day." As in the original volume, Oates provides fascinating introductions to each writer, blending biographical information with her own trenchant observations about their work. In addition, she has written a new preface that contemplates our shifting literary culture, and has revised her introductory essay to the first edition, in which she offers the fruit of years of reflection on a genre in which she herself is a master.

New to this Edition

  • 20 new stories, each with a new introduction by Joyce Carol Oates
  • 17 new authors who were not represented at all in the first edition
  • Insightful preface by JCO on the shifting literary landscape in the 21st Century
  • Fascinating introductory essay by JCO on why these stories form the core of the American literary canon


  • 59 of the best American short stories
  • Introductions to each story written by Joyce Carol Oates that describe the author, work, and the reason for selecting it
  • Fascinating introductory essay by JCO discussing why these stories form the core of the American literary canon

About the Author(s)

Joyce Carol Oates is the National Book Award-winning author of over fifty novels, including bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, and The Gravedigger's Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University.


Praise for the first edition:

"Joyce Carol Oates has cast her net further and deeper, drawing from American literature's impressive past and substantial cultural wealth.... Exceptional."--Booklist

"More than a survey of writing styles. It is a celebration of the diversity of American culture."--Denver Post

"Readers who take an encompassing view of American literature and culture will love this book, which brilliantly captures the range and heft of the remarkable American contribution to the short story genre. With penetrating introductions by Joyce Carol Oates to each writer, this is an anthology of the finest kind, a collection of stories dazzling in variety but unified by an editor of singular intelligence and vision."--Arnold Rampersad, Princeton University

"Joyce Carol Oates, a master fabulist who is also one of our finest critics, has given us a treasury that represents the astonishing range of the American short story. But instead of another showcase of 'greatest hits,' Oates ventures further afield, to uncover a series of neglected but refulgent gems. This is a collection with guts--and brains. Best of all, it's a collection that unfolds, as its editor promises, the larger story of American writing, in all its hues and timbres."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

"A splendid volume of short stories which reflect the wealth of brilliance built up over the years by a wide ranging field of American writers. Oates has done an outstanding job in making this selection.... She does not always go for the well known stories by delights us with some that have remained somewhat obscure."--Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

"To a short story lover it is hard to think of a book that could give more pleasure."--Scotland on Sunday

Table of Contents

    Introduction 1

    WASHINGTON IRVING (1783-1859)
    Rip Van Winkle
    WILLIAM AUSTIN (1778-1841)
    Peter Rugg, the Missing Man
    The Wives of the Dead
    EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849)
    The Tell-Tale Heart
    The Ghost in the Mill
    HERMAN MELVILLE (1819-1891)
    The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids
    SAMUEL CLEMENS (1835-1910)
    Cannibalism in the Cars
    HENRY JAMES (1843-1916)
    The Middle Years
    SARA H ORNE JEWETT (1849-1909)
    A White Heron
    KA TE CHOPIN (1851-1904)
    The Storm
    MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN (1852-1930)
    Old Woman Magoun
    CHARLES CHESNUTT (1858-1932)
    The Sheriff's Children
    The Yellow Wallpaper
    EDITH WHARTON (1862-1937)
    A Journey
    STEPHEN CRA NE (1871-1900)
    The Little Regiment
    WILLA CATHER (1873-1947)
    A Death in the Desert
    SHERWOOD ANDERSON (1876-1941)
    The Strength of God
    JACK LONDON (1876-1916)
    In a Far Country
    The Girl with a Pimply Face
    H. P. LOVECRA FT (1890-1937)
    The Rats in the Walls
    JEAN TOOMER (1894-1967)
    Blood-Burning Moon
    F. SCOTT FITZGERA LD (1896-1940)
    An Alcoholic Case
    WILLIAM FAULKNER (1897-1962)
    That Evening Sun
    ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1899-1961)
    Hills Like White Elephants
    LANGSTON HUGHES (1902-1967)
    Red-Headed Baby
    RICHARD WRIGHT (1908-1960)
    The Man Who Was Almost a Man
    NELSON ALGREN (1909-1981)
    A Bottle of Milk for Mother
    EUDORA WELTY (1909-2001)
    Where Is the Voice Coming From?
    PAUL BOWLES (1910-1999)
    A Distant Episode
    JOHN CHEEVER (1912-1982)
    The Country Husband
    RA LPH ELLISON (1914-1994)
    Battle Royal
    BERNARD MALAMUD (1914-1986)
    My Son the Murderer
    SHIRLEY JACKSON (1916-1965)
    The Lottery
    RA Y BRA DBURY (b. 1920)
    There Will Come Soft Rains
    JAMES BALDWIN (1924-1987)
    Sonny's Blues
    FLANNERY O'CONNOR (1925-1964)
    A Late Encounter with the Enemy
    CYNTHIA OZICK (b. 1928)
    The Shawl
    DONALD BARTHELME (1931-1989)
    The School
    JOHN UPDIKE (1932-2009)
    The Persistence of Desire
    PHILIP ROTH (b. 1933)
    Defender of the Faith
    ANNIE PROULX (b. 1935)
    The Mud Below
    RA YMOND CARVER (1938-1988)
    Are These Actual Miles?
    JOYCE CAROL OATES (b. 1938)
    RUSSELL BANKS (b. 1940)
    The Child Screams and Looks Back at You
    EDMUND WHITE (b. 1940)
    Give It Up for Billy
    RICHARD FORD (b. 1944)
    Under the Radar
    TOBIAS WOLFF (b. 1945)
    Hunters in the Snow
    TIM O'BRIEN (b. 1946)
    The Things They Carried
    STEPHEN KING (b. 1947)
    The Reach
    T. C. BOYLE (b. 1948)
    Filthy with Things
    AMY HEMPEL (b. 1951)
    Today Will Be a Quiet Day
    LOUISE ERDRICH (b. 1954)
    JEFFREY FORD (b. 1955)
    The Drowned Life
    HA JIN (b. 1956)
    Children as Enemies
    LORRIE MOORE (b. 1957)
    How to Become a Writer
    DAVID FOSTER WALLACE (1962-2008)
    Good People
    JHUMPA LAHIRI (b. 1967)
    JUNOT DÍAZ (b. 1968)
    Edison, New Jersey

    Author Index