This is a fine collection with a ludicrous title. If it’s not immediately obvious why its pretence of being a ‘Book of the American Short Story’ merits a Trades Descriptions investigation, simply compare its line-up of authors with that of Joyce Carol Oates’s Oxford Book of American Short Stories. Oates picks Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Wharton, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Baldwin and Bellow – all the names you’d expect. Not one of them wins a place in Ford’s squad.
His original Granta Book of the American Short Story (1992) at least suggested that ‘Postwar’ had been absent-mindedly left out of the intended title. The decades between 1945 and 1990 were more or less evenly represented, with a phalanx of now largely forgotten figures. Fifteen years on, as far as