The "Best New American Voices" publishers do not accept submissions. Or at least they don't accept submissions from authors. They only accept submissions from university writing workshops.
As the editors of the series, John Kulka and Natalie Danford explain in a preface to the anthology that "The workshop has come to exert enormous influence on literary life and culture in North America." (Well, yes, and this anthology seems intent on magnifying that influence.)
The editor of this volume, Sue Miller, writes an introduction in which she argues that concerns about university writing programs are misplaced. (Concerns that the blind lead the blind through these workshops. Concerns that too many workshop writers don't have real lives outside of academia.)
In fact, Miller insists the format of the American short story has never been more diverse or rich.
This collection does prove her point. One story is about how it feels to be a Vietnamese immigrant. Yet another is set in China. Another is nothing more than a series of letters purported to have been written in 1876. The stories couldn't be more intriguing or more different in style.
The best of the "Best New American Voices 2007" may well be Ryan Effgen, who wrote "The Inappropriate Behavior of our Alleged Loved Ones." The story begins with a young man talking to his brother about the inappropriate behavior of their sister's boyfriend. Then it moves on to the narrator talking with his wife, still calmly, about the inappropriate sister herself.
The wife says very little. The narrator explains, "We have a rule: Only I can trash my family and only she can trash her family. And we do plenty of trashing."The plot then takes a few wild turns, and then the story ends. In only 15 pages, Effgen tells a story that is both funny and scary, and he also illuminates quite perfectly what it means to be family.
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