If you are a teacher, a literary scholar, a writer interested in the process of other writers OR a reader who likes a challenge, then a recently published collection of essays, Why I Like This Story, is a project after your own heart.
Years ago Jackson R. Bryer, the editor of this collection, began asking authors to choose a favorite short story and then write about it. Why I Like This Story presents brief essays by forty-eight leading American writers on their favorite American short stories — explaining why they like them.
The essays, which are personal, not scholarly, not only tell us much about the story selected, they also tell us a good deal about the author of the essay — about what elements of fiction he or she values. Among the contributors to the book are Julia Alvarez, Richard Bausch, Ann Beattie, Alan Cheuse, Andre Dubus, William H. Gass, Julia Glass, Jane Hamilton, Jill McCorkle, Alice McDermott, Edward Kelsey Moore, Annie Proulx, Joan Silber, Elizabeth Spencer, Mako Yoshikawa, and many more.
Please note that the actual short stories which inspired the author essays are not included in Why I Like This Story. To fully appreciate Edward Kelsey Moore’s seven page essay on the story, Blessed Assurance by Langston Hughes, you will need to seek out the short story — and likewise all the other short stories referred to in these essays. If you love great fiction, then this is the best kind of treasure hunt. Your allies on this quest are your local bookstore, online merchants, and perhaps you can find some of the short stories available on the internet. Happy hunting — happy reading!
For readers with hearts closer to their stomachs than their heads, a contribution by Edward Kelsey Moore to a previous collection might also be appealing. A few years back Edward shared his recipe for health-forward dessert bars (which include apples and sweet potatoes), prefaced by a sweet story he wrote on My Best Dietary Intentions. Both of these treats from Edward are part of the project, The Artists’ And Writers’ Cookbook, which includes stories and recipes from seventy-six contemporary artists and writers, all bound in a beautiful book with charming illustrations!
Both books are easily available from online merchants, or stop by your local independent bookstore.