That Glimpse of Truth Score Card
….the finest short stories ever written? Ranked/100
Miller sets out to “show that a short story can do pretty much anything – tell the tale, untell the tale told, hide the teller; make you laugh, make you cry, show a world, be political, play and work, and expand what fiction can do… a short story is a distillation” giving the writer a “far harder task to achieve everything, not just anything.”
“Everything in this book is as good as it gets.”
Quite the claim!
It’s more than a little odd that in an anthology with precisely these professed pretensions there’s no Tolstoy, no Turgenev, no Henry James; nor is there any Coover or Barthelme, so one must assume that there are vast swathes of short story territory that Miller wilfully ignores or dismisses, therefore wholly different conceptions of what a short story is.
However, as this reviewer points out there is at least one unfortunate bias:
“… there is an un-ignorable skew towards the twentieth century …the anthology’s lopsided shape seems to stem from Miller’s obvious enthusiasm and expertise in this period and his selections in this portion of the anthology are far more assured and engaging than, for example, the nineteenth century which (by comparison) plods through a pretty predictable and dog-eared reading list.”
If it is “…a solid introduction which covers all the most unavoidable landmarks and makes some forays into less charted territories,” those forays aren’t that deep, adventurous or open minded: Miller seems to have quite a narrow idea, despite all the highfalutin talk in the preface, of what a short story is, what it should do, what it can do, and what makes it good.
Short Miller not have prejudices? Sure. How else to possibly do what he sets out to do, something which is hard and utterly worthwhile. If one is to fail, and fail one must, it should be out in the open, not merely by pretending that everything has been considered, weighed carefully, and judged fairly.
If someone proposes to be encyclopaedic in their scope, I’d expect a little more effort be expended in this direction. Else confess your real agenda, wear your preferences on your sleeve, and acknowledge that what you do is not directed at the noble and impossible goal you set yourself: “Everything in this book is as good as it gets.”
No it is not.
Probably a noble effort, but there is certainly in this volume a worthy intention, to seek out what is good.