Anthologies are notoriously difficult to publish. Marketing is tough, it’s a challenge to wrangle all the authors together for readings, and generally it’s just difficult to get people interested. As a publisher of a yearly anthology, we think the world is crazy. Anthologies are awesome. They offer a lot of bang for your buck, often aligning a group of writers around a single cause or theme. And while we’re certainly very proud of our own anthology, we thought we’d point out several others that are also worth a look.
The Uncanny Reader edited by Marjorie Sandor: This recent release celebrates and explores the uncanny. With stories by classic writers like HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and Shirley Jackson, to contemporaries like Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, Steven Millhauser, and Joyce Carol Oates, this collection of thirty-one stories reflects the uncanny in literature throughout the years. As Sandor writes in her introduction: “Therefore, dear reader, get out your flashlight and read in the dark.” If you like stories that are paranormal, dark, mysterious, or unsettling, this is your collection.
You’ve Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories That Held Them in Awe edited by Jim Shepard and Ron Hansen: This anthology offers a lens into how some of our most celebrated contemporary authors experience and think about literature. This hefty collection, which published in 1994, provides introductions to pieces from today’s writers explaining what they loved, appreciated, or what moved them — what held them in awe! — about the published piece. It is a wonderful and diverse collection of stories that will impress and delight any reader.
The Best American Series: This series of anthologies includes Best American Short Stories, Essays, Mystery, Travel, Non-Required Reading, and more. These collections are celebrated by today’s best authors whose stories appear in the books. The collection is curated by a guest editor each year and accompanied by a series editor. (In the case of Best American Short Stories the series editor is Heidi Pitlor.) It is an excellent sampling of strong writing from the previous year and it a great way to learn about new voices and to see the work of old favorites.
The Best Horror of the Year edited by Ellen Datlow: Ellen Datlow is the foremost expert on horror and scary stories. She has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over thirty years, and has edited more than sixty anthologies, including the annual Lovecraft’s Monsters, Fearful Symmetries, Nightmare Carnival, and The Cutting Room. Most recent are The Doll Collection and The Monstrous. Best Horror of the Year is the best place to find that perfect scary story. The disturbing, the terrible, the unthinkable, the terrifying — it’s all here… every year. (Check out our interview with Ellen Datlow, here.)
The O. Henry and Pushcart Prize Anthologies: These two anthologies are what literary magazines and published short story writers look forward to each year. Both anthologies collect short stories from literary magazines that were published in the previous year and present them as the best work from the lit-mag scene. It is an extraordinary honor for the magazines and writers where the stories first appeared, often reflecting new voices in literary fiction as well as the best up-and-coming magazines.
Best of the Net Anthology: This anthology also collects short stories and essays from literary magazines and presents them to readers in one easy to find place. What’s different about Sundress Publications, however, is they publish stories online, and only accept writing that was previously published on the web. With so much online reading, they are an important and valued publication.
The World Split Open: Great Writers on How and Why We Write: In celebration of the thirty-year anniversary of Portland’s Literary Arts, Tin House Books put together this collection to honor the nonprofit literary center’s storied lecture series. It collects speeches given by ten well-known authors on literature and craft, with warm words of introduction from Jon Raymond. Wallace Stegner, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Robert Stone, EL Doctorow, and other favorites have all contributed lectures. It is a fantastic and unique anthology; a wonderful way to experience the knowledge of today’s best writers.
What is your favorite anthology? Tell us in the comments!