December 16, 2010

Best-of vs. Collected

It’s great to read people’s collected short stories. Not their best-of collections, but the collected stories, so that you get them all.

When you read best-of collections, you get the very best. They’re the cream of the crop, top of the heap, and from some of the best writers. So they’re really really good. This is really intimidating. It’s good to read to try to figure out how they’re doing it, but it’s daunting to think you might even approach those stories.

But with collected stories, you get their body of work. You get their best stories, but you also get the stories that were published early in their career and maybe aren’t as good. I find this very heartening ~ to know these monuments of craft and art made mistakes too.

I recently discovered Frank O’Connor, whom I love, and I’m reading his collected stories. “Guest of the Nation” (on which the movie The Crying Game was partly based) and “My Oedipus Complex” and “A Man of the World” are just so good. It’s nice to read his earlier ones, too, in the collected stories so that you get his early attempts, and you can tell that voice and how people really tell stories are what he’s really interested in.

Not that I don’t love best-of collections as well!

Questions of the Day: Do you read best-of or collected version of people’s work?

1 comment:

Daisy Hickman said...

This is a great suggestion, Tamara. I will keep it in mind in 2011 ... as I sift and sort through reading priorities. Hope you are having a lovely December. Stay warm!