Best American Short Stories (2014) by Jennifer Egan
The Best American Short Stories 2014 is a prestigious literary event that showcases the finest works in American short story writing. This annual compilation, often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of literature, recognizes twenty exceptional examples of storytelling excellence.
The task of selecting the stories for this year’s edition has been entrusted to Jennifer Egan, a highly acclaimed and bestselling author. Egan’s remarkable talent has earned her numerous accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for her novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Renowned for her keen observational skills and compelling narratives, Egan has been hailed by Time magazine as a creator of “a new classic of American fiction.” Her unique ability to blend satire and romance has captivated readers and critics alike, making her an ideal choice to curate The Best American Short Stories 2014.
Writing the American Psyche: Narratives of Technology and Violence
Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is a book that has had a profound impact on author Jennifer Egan since she read it at the age of 11. Egan was so enthralled by the book that her mother suggested she stop reading it due to her obsession with the fictional world. However, Egan continued reading the book and it left a lasting impression on her.
At the time, Egan did not have aspirations of becoming a writer. She initially wanted to be a doctor, influenced by her grandfather’s career as an orthopedic surgeon. However, her interest in science waned as she grew older and she developed a new goal of becoming an archaeologist. She took a gap year before college and wrote to various archaeology programs, hoping to be paid to participate in digs. While she did not achieve her goal, the experience led her to Europe, where she traveled and had eye-opening experiences. It was during this trip that Egan realized her passion for writing.
Egan’s path to becoming a writer was gradual and not characterized by immediate success. She did not show great promise early on, but she had determination and a willingness to work hard. She enrolled in workshops in New York and slowly improved her writing skills. One of her breakthrough moments was selling a story to The New Yorker, which gave her confidence in her abilities. However, the road to success was not without its challenges, as Egan struggled to find a publisher for her first novel and faced rejection.
Egan’s writing process is one of exploration and discovery. She writes by hand, finding it meditative and conducive to the impulsive and unconscious nature of her writing. She often has no idea where her stories will go or who the characters will be, but she allows the process to unfold naturally. Research plays a role in her writing, particularly for historical fiction like Manhattan Beach, but she also relies on her imagination and intuition.
Egan believes that fiction has important responsibilities, such as reminding people of the inner lives of others and fostering compassion and empathy. She also sees fiction as a cultural artifact, capturing the nuances and details of a particular time and place. She grapples with writing from a female perspective and the temptation to write from a male point of view, but she recognizes the importance of representing diverse voices in her work.
Technology and its impact on society are recurring themes in Egan’s writing. She is interested in the ways communication technology has changed and how it affects human relationships and self-perception. However, she also worries that technology, particularly television and the prevalence of smartphones, is taking attention away from sustained reading and diminishing the importance of fiction in society.
Egan’s writing is influenced by her experiences growing up in a technologically changing world and her perspective as an American. She reflects on the American psyche and its connections to violence and self-invention. Egan believes that exploring these themes and preserving them through her writing is a way to better understand ourselves and our society.