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In The Soho Press Book of ’80s Short Fiction, editor Dale Peck offers readers a fresh take on a seminal period in American history, when Ronald Reagan was president, the Cold War was rushing to its conclusion, and literature was searching for ways to move beyond the postmodern unease of the 1970s. The 34 works gathered here are formally inventive yet tightly controlled, mor In The Soho Press Book of ’80s Short Fiction, editor Dale Peck offers readers a fresh take on a seminal period in American history, when Ronald Reagan was president, the Cold War was rushing to its conclusion, and literature was searching for ways to move beyond the postmodern unease of the 1970s. The 34 works gathered here are formally inventive yet tightly controlled, morally charged by newly politicized notions of identity but fraught with anxiety about a body whose fragility had been freshly emphasized by the AIDS epidemic. Individually, Peck argues in his characteristically incisive introduction, the pieces are vivid—emotionally rich, and powered by a new prose that mixes the vernacular with an almost poetic sense of control. Taken as a body of work, they challenge the prevailing notion of the ’80s as a time of aesthetic as well as financial maximalism, and offer a more expansive, inclusive view of literary possibility. The anthology blends early stories from writers like Denis Johnson, Jamaica Kincaid, Mary Gaitskill, and Raymond Carver, which have gone on to become part of the American canon, with remarkable and often transgressive work from some of the most celebrated writers of the underground, including Dennis Cooper, Eileen Myles, Lynne Tillman, and Gary Indiana. Peck has also included powerful work by writers such as Gil Cuadros, Essex Hemphill, and Sam D’Allesandro, whose untimely deaths from AIDS ended their careers almost before they had begun. Almost a third of the stories are out of print and unavailable anywhere else. The Soho Press Book of ‘80s Short Fiction is a daring re-appraisal of a decade that feels increasingly central to our culture.


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In The Soho Press Book of ’80s Short Fiction, editor Dale Peck offers readers a fresh take on a seminal period in American history, when Ronald Reagan was president, the Cold War was rushing to its conclusion, and literature was searching for ways to move beyond the postmodern unease of the 1970s. The 34 works gathered here are formally inventive yet tightly controlled, mor In The Soho Press Book of ’80s Short Fiction, editor Dale Peck offers readers a fresh take on a seminal period in American history, when Ronald Reagan was president, the Cold War was rushing to its conclusion, and literature was searching for ways to move beyond the postmodern unease of the 1970s. The 34 works gathered here are formally inventive yet tightly controlled, morally charged by newly politicized notions of identity but fraught with anxiety about a body whose fragility had been freshly emphasized by the AIDS epidemic. Individually, Peck argues in his characteristically incisive introduction, the pieces are vivid—emotionally rich, and powered by a new prose that mixes the vernacular with an almost poetic sense of control. Taken as a body of work, they challenge the prevailing notion of the ’80s as a time of aesthetic as well as financial maximalism, and offer a more expansive, inclusive view of literary possibility. The anthology blends early stories from writers like Denis Johnson, Jamaica Kincaid, Mary Gaitskill, and Raymond Carver, which have gone on to become part of the American canon, with remarkable and often transgressive work from some of the most celebrated writers of the underground, including Dennis Cooper, Eileen Myles, Lynne Tillman, and Gary Indiana. Peck has also included powerful work by writers such as Gil Cuadros, Essex Hemphill, and Sam D’Allesandro, whose untimely deaths from AIDS ended their careers almost before they had begun. Almost a third of the stories are out of print and unavailable anywhere else. The Soho Press Book of ‘80s Short Fiction is a daring re-appraisal of a decade that feels increasingly central to our culture.

30 review for The Soho Press Book of '80s Short Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Archer

    Highly recommended. Unusual collection of short stories from the era, highlighting many lesser known authors of the 80s who - with time - have maybe become a little (or totally) forgotten. If you are a die hard 80s person, this book is indispensable. (I tore through it in, like, 3 days.) But, really, and perhaps most surprisingly, this book should be required reading for anyone interested in traditionally marginalized voices. Peck's collection highlights many feminist and gay authors whose stori Highly recommended. Unusual collection of short stories from the era, highlighting many lesser known authors of the 80s who - with time - have maybe become a little (or totally) forgotten. If you are a die hard 80s person, this book is indispensable. (I tore through it in, like, 3 days.) But, really, and perhaps most surprisingly, this book should be required reading for anyone interested in traditionally marginalized voices. Peck's collection highlights many feminist and gay authors whose stories account for some of the most poignant, raw, and insightful in this entire collection. If you're looking for kitsch or gentle nostalgia, look elsewhere. Although many of the stories here are "fun", I think the aim of this book is much more serious, attempting to offer a glimpse into the harder realities of people who struggled to find a place in Reagan's America, a place and time which - at least, according to many of the voices you come across in this book - shames, stigmatizes, or otherwise excludes those not considered "mainstream". This is a collection of stories about people who have no choice but to turn their back on the mainstream values of the day, choosing transgression over conformity, personal truths over the limited and limiting choices available to outsiders at the time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan Ryan

    It's no coincidence that Trump is invoked a half dozen times in this collections. Sharp, wrenching and utterly queer, these stories prove that in times of decadence and demagoguery, art fights, art illuminates, and art outlives banal evil. It's no coincidence that Trump is invoked a half dozen times in this collections. Sharp, wrenching and utterly queer, these stories prove that in times of decadence and demagoguery, art fights, art illuminates, and art outlives banal evil.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Patrick DiJusto

    A book of 1980s short fiction. What was I thinking? Ok, I'm sure all of the stories were very good, but they remind me of a time of my life I enjoy better as a memory than as reportage thinly disguised as fiction. A book of 1980s short fiction. What was I thinking? Ok, I'm sure all of the stories were very good, but they remind me of a time of my life I enjoy better as a memory than as reportage thinly disguised as fiction.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    Bret Easton Ellis stories about vampires and other strange and upsetting stuff. Recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    Why are short stories so effed up

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Stepp

    This one kept breaking me. I saw so many reflections of people I've known, and lost, that it was often hard to keep reading. Well worth the time. This one kept breaking me. I saw so many reflections of people I've known, and lost, that it was often hard to keep reading. Well worth the time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lexie

    I did enjoy nearly every story in this anthology. I initially picked it up to read a few short stories by authors I knew, but ended up being introduced to authors I'd like to read more of. I have incurred many library fees for how long it took me to finish! WARNING TO "GENTLE" READERS: This book has a large representation of LGBTQ stories and many of the stories (gay or straight) are sexually graphic. I didn't expect that and, while it did not bother me, I know it would be unwelcome to some reade I did enjoy nearly every story in this anthology. I initially picked it up to read a few short stories by authors I knew, but ended up being introduced to authors I'd like to read more of. I have incurred many library fees for how long it took me to finish! WARNING TO "GENTLE" READERS: This book has a large representation of LGBTQ stories and many of the stories (gay or straight) are sexually graphic. I didn't expect that and, while it did not bother me, I know it would be unwelcome to some readers (my mom, for one). If you don't like sexual content or LGBTQ themes, this is not the book for you.

  8. 4 out of 5

    A. Collins

    A collection of short fiction from the 80s and early 90s, much of it queer. There’s a lot of gold in here and many writers who I am excited to explore further (e.g. Gary Indiana, Essex Hemphill, Dorothy Allison). There were also a few duds, including a story by Bruce Benderson that made me angry. I guess it was supposed to be a satire, but it came off as lazy and racist. One story left me in tears and, for the most part, I have respect for any story that’s able to affect me in such a way. I do A collection of short fiction from the 80s and early 90s, much of it queer. There’s a lot of gold in here and many writers who I am excited to explore further (e.g. Gary Indiana, Essex Hemphill, Dorothy Allison). There were also a few duds, including a story by Bruce Benderson that made me angry. I guess it was supposed to be a satire, but it came off as lazy and racist. One story left me in tears and, for the most part, I have respect for any story that’s able to affect me in such a way. I don’t cry too easily. All in all, I’m happy this exists and that I got to read it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I lost patience with this one pretty quickly, and gave myself permission to skip around at will. Even for an anthology (which, by its very nature, invites a wide array of styles and forms), this is deeply inconsistent. The highlights really stand out, though: the stories by Raymond Carver, Christopher Bram, Gary Indiana, Patrick McGrath, Mary Gaitskill, Susan Minot, David Wojnarowicz, and Bret Easton Ellis are all worth spending time with. As for the rest, take them or leave them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Augusta

    As with most anthologies, this felt uneven. Some stories I loved, some were just ok. The ones I did like: Jamaica Kincaid, Raymond Carver, Amy Hempel, Christopher Bram, Jim Lewis, Dorothy Allison, Mary Gaitskill (the movie Secretary is based off this story), Denis Johnson, Sam D'Allesandro, AM Homes As with most anthologies, this felt uneven. Some stories I loved, some were just ok. The ones I did like: Jamaica Kincaid, Raymond Carver, Amy Hempel, Christopher Bram, Jim Lewis, Dorothy Allison, Mary Gaitskill (the movie Secretary is based off this story), Denis Johnson, Sam D'Allesandro, AM Homes

  11. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I checked this out because I wanted to read the Mary Gaitskill short story. I really liked some of the stories, but some of them were tiresome. I did really like Secretary though.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Short stories are not usually my jam, but I've been trying to change that. This collection left me cold so I put it aside. Will attempt more short stories, but not these. Short stories are not usually my jam, but I've been trying to change that. This collection left me cold so I put it aside. Will attempt more short stories, but not these.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason Robinson

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julyjuly

  15. 5 out of 5

    Yee-Kay Chan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike Cullen

  18. 4 out of 5

    Justin Grimbol

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  21. 4 out of 5

    Evan Jacobs

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tom Buchanan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kris Macfalda

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Desrochers

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Prescott

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alanna

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan

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