Having never read one of the Best American Short Stories collections, I have no way to judge this latest edition to past efforts. The only thing I can speak to is how I felt about the stories contained in this collection and how good I think they are. There are some very fine stories in this collection with one in particular that I just loved.

Louise Erdrich has long been my favorite novelist, but I was still nervous about what she would make from the short story format. Shamengwa is a moving story which revolves around a violin and the effect it has had, in various ways, on the lives of several members of a community. Anthony Doerr has one of the better stories in the collection, The Shell Collector . With such a deceptively simple title, one would not expect such raw power and an interesting story about a man who lives alone but has gained worldwide attention because of the poison in one particular kind of shell. Another standout is Ryan Harty s Why the Sky Turns Red when the Sun Goes Down , a story of a family with a robotic son (literally, the boy is a robot, or, perhaps an android). This is a touching story.

The best story in the collection, and then one that blew me away is Dan Chaon s The Bees . This one was completely unexpected and shocking. While this one would probably fall into the category of horror , don t let that mislead you. This one starts out easy, just identifying a man and his family and we start to learn about his past. He wasn t a good man during his first marriage and he deeply regrets it. But as the story continues and we get snippets of revelation, the tension grows and so does this air of creepiness that I got while I was reading it. The tension does not let up until the end of the story, but rather it keeps building because we don t quite know what is going on and this is not what you would assume a typical horror story would be. It is a psychological horror and it is just gripping.

This is a very fine collection, but The Bees was the one story that truly stood out for me and it continues to be memorable.