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First Fiction: An Anthology of the First Published Stories by Famous Writers

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Here is where it all began - the professional fiction-writing careers of forty-one of our century's finest authors, from Raymond Carver and Alice Walker to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ursula K. Le Guin. Spanning nearly eight decades, these short stories mark their creators' breakthroughs from amateur writer to published author. Standing as a testament to the writers' youth and Here is where it all began - the professional fiction-writing careers of forty-one of our century's finest authors, from Raymond Carver and Alice Walker to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ursula K. Le Guin. Spanning nearly eight decades, these short stories mark their creators' breakthroughs from amateur writer to published author. Standing as a testament to the writers' youth and ambition, they bear witness to the emergence of some of the most distinctive literary voices of our time. As Jane Smiley writes in the introduction to First Fiction, "Education begins with publication." The brief biographical notes that preface each story provide insight into this learning process and detail the circumstances surrounding publication. Nelson Algren's debut, for example, was preceded by a jail sentence served for stealing a typewriter. Mary McCarthy's first story is based on the bitter breakup of her first marriage. In many cases, the author's thoughts about his or her craft are also included. ("I can do this!" Mark Helprin realized.). Some of these stories blazed a trail of glory to literary eminence for their authors, while others were more like a trace of light at dawn: William Saroyan's first published fiction brought him instant recognition; Charles Bukowski, on the other hand, languished in obscurity for several decades after his professional debut. Some of the authors are easily recognizable: most readers will identify as Kurt Vonnegut's "The Barnhouse Effect," a Cold War story about the most powerful weapon on earth. The authors of other stories, such as Doris Lessing, are barely recognizable. Youth and age are both represented here - from Tennessee Williams's debut at seventeen with "The Vengeance of Nitocris" to Henry Miller's at forty with his story "Mademoiselle Claude." These stories represent the true starting points of the careers of some of the most talented writers of our time. First Fiction is fascinating reading for all those interested in the creative proces Contents:So help me / Nelson Algren The war in the bathroom / Margaret Atwood Previous condition / James Baldwin The state of grace / Harold Brodkey Aftermath of a lengthy rejection slip / Charles Bukowski Miriam / Truman Capote Furious seasons / Raymond Carver Expelled / John Cheever Landing in luck / William Faulkner Babes in the woods / F. Scott Fitzgerald Albergo Empedocle / E.M. Forster The end of the party / Graham Greene Because of the waters of the flood / Mark Helprin In our time / Ernest Hemingway Crazy in the stir / Chester B. Himes After you, my dear Alphonse / Shirley Jackson Territory / David Leavitt April in Paris / Ursula K. Le Guin The pig / Doris Lessing Cruel and barbarous treatment / Mary McCarthy Wunderkind / Carson McCullers The greatest thing in the world / Norman Mailer Benefit performance / Bernard Malamud Mademoiselle Claude / Henry Miller A basket of strawberries / Alice Munro In the old world / Joyce Carol Oates The geranium / Flannery O'Connor Goodbye and good luck / Grace Paley Such a pretty little picture / Dorothy Parker The day it snowed / Philip Roth The daring young man on the flying trapeze / William Saroyan Flash in the pan / Irwin Shaw Gimpel the fool / Isaac Bashevis Singer And baby makes three / Jane Smiley The seraph and the Zambesi / Muriel Spark Oil field vignettes / Jim Thompson Friends from Philadelphia / John Updike Report on theBarnhouse Effect / Kurt Vonnegut To hell with dying / Alice Walker Death of a traveling salesman / Eudora Welty The vengeance of Nitocris / Tennessee Williams


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Here is where it all began - the professional fiction-writing careers of forty-one of our century's finest authors, from Raymond Carver and Alice Walker to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ursula K. Le Guin. Spanning nearly eight decades, these short stories mark their creators' breakthroughs from amateur writer to published author. Standing as a testament to the writers' youth and Here is where it all began - the professional fiction-writing careers of forty-one of our century's finest authors, from Raymond Carver and Alice Walker to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ursula K. Le Guin. Spanning nearly eight decades, these short stories mark their creators' breakthroughs from amateur writer to published author. Standing as a testament to the writers' youth and ambition, they bear witness to the emergence of some of the most distinctive literary voices of our time. As Jane Smiley writes in the introduction to First Fiction, "Education begins with publication." The brief biographical notes that preface each story provide insight into this learning process and detail the circumstances surrounding publication. Nelson Algren's debut, for example, was preceded by a jail sentence served for stealing a typewriter. Mary McCarthy's first story is based on the bitter breakup of her first marriage. In many cases, the author's thoughts about his or her craft are also included. ("I can do this!" Mark Helprin realized.). Some of these stories blazed a trail of glory to literary eminence for their authors, while others were more like a trace of light at dawn: William Saroyan's first published fiction brought him instant recognition; Charles Bukowski, on the other hand, languished in obscurity for several decades after his professional debut. Some of the authors are easily recognizable: most readers will identify as Kurt Vonnegut's "The Barnhouse Effect," a Cold War story about the most powerful weapon on earth. The authors of other stories, such as Doris Lessing, are barely recognizable. Youth and age are both represented here - from Tennessee Williams's debut at seventeen with "The Vengeance of Nitocris" to Henry Miller's at forty with his story "Mademoiselle Claude." These stories represent the true starting points of the careers of some of the most talented writers of our time. First Fiction is fascinating reading for all those interested in the creative proces Contents:So help me / Nelson Algren The war in the bathroom / Margaret Atwood Previous condition / James Baldwin The state of grace / Harold Brodkey Aftermath of a lengthy rejection slip / Charles Bukowski Miriam / Truman Capote Furious seasons / Raymond Carver Expelled / John Cheever Landing in luck / William Faulkner Babes in the woods / F. Scott Fitzgerald Albergo Empedocle / E.M. Forster The end of the party / Graham Greene Because of the waters of the flood / Mark Helprin In our time / Ernest Hemingway Crazy in the stir / Chester B. Himes After you, my dear Alphonse / Shirley Jackson Territory / David Leavitt April in Paris / Ursula K. Le Guin The pig / Doris Lessing Cruel and barbarous treatment / Mary McCarthy Wunderkind / Carson McCullers The greatest thing in the world / Norman Mailer Benefit performance / Bernard Malamud Mademoiselle Claude / Henry Miller A basket of strawberries / Alice Munro In the old world / Joyce Carol Oates The geranium / Flannery O'Connor Goodbye and good luck / Grace Paley Such a pretty little picture / Dorothy Parker The day it snowed / Philip Roth The daring young man on the flying trapeze / William Saroyan Flash in the pan / Irwin Shaw Gimpel the fool / Isaac Bashevis Singer And baby makes three / Jane Smiley The seraph and the Zambesi / Muriel Spark Oil field vignettes / Jim Thompson Friends from Philadelphia / John Updike Report on theBarnhouse Effect / Kurt Vonnegut To hell with dying / Alice Walker Death of a traveling salesman / Eudora Welty The vengeance of Nitocris / Tennessee Williams

30 review for First Fiction: An Anthology of the First Published Stories by Famous Writers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    The fact that I loved this book only confirms my literary nerd status. This is an anthology of the first published stories by famous writers. I found it thrilling to read the first attempts of such literary giants as Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Conner, Joyce Carol Oats etc. That Alice Munro sure knows how to write. At the beginning of each story is a short intro about the author and some of the details surrounding his or her's The fact that I loved this book only confirms my literary nerd status. This is an anthology of the first published stories by famous writers. I found it thrilling to read the first attempts of such literary giants as Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Conner, Joyce Carol Oats etc. That Alice Munro sure knows how to write. At the beginning of each story is a short intro about the author and some of the details surrounding his or her's first publication. These little excerpts contained gems about the process, disappointments, difficulties and joys of writing that first successful story. What could be more fascinating?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This is a nifty collection of stories that give a 20/20 hindsight "look into the future" of each eventually-famous author. However, because of the wide diversity and differences in styles and subject matters (and even the different "starting points" of style and craft for each writer), the collection can strike as disjointed and uneven. This book will perhaps be best appreciated by aspiring writers and lovers of literature.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Franden

    One of my favorite books of all time. A selection of the first published short stories by some of our most revered authors: Capote, Algren, Margaret Atwood, Ralph Ellison, Hemingway, and so many others. A real treasure trove of literary delight!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sherrie Miranda

    4 of 5 stars Great first stories by famous authors! Reviewed By Sherrie Miranda on July 5, 2018 Format: Paperback I've had this book for a while and finally grabbed it to take on a trip so I didn't have to remember what I read last. I started out reading the shorter pieces which were almost all really good. These are the first PUBLISHED fiction by famous writers so we're not getting their teen diaries or anything like that. The writing is very well done. Of course, they have been edited and this was a 4 of 5 stars Great first stories by famous authors! Reviewed By Sherrie Miranda on July 5, 2018 Format: Paperback I've had this book for a while and finally grabbed it to take on a trip so I didn't have to remember what I read last. I started out reading the shorter pieces which were almost all really good. These are the first PUBLISHED fiction by famous writers so we're not getting their teen diaries or anything like that. The writing is very well done. Of course, they have been edited and this was at a time when it took someone in the business to discover you & help push your career along. What surprised me the most was how well one story led into the next one. This is despite the fact that these authors were in the book in alphabetical order. Serendipity, I guess. Sherrie Miranda's historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” will be out en Español soon. It's about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P11Ch...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Isabel Osmundsen

    As a collection of the first PUBLISHED short stories of famous and influential writers, some of the works are still a little rough, or may seem unfamiliar from the style these authors later hone to. However, it doesn't fail as entertaining. Eye opening, (as these aren't as heard from as the works these writers were made famous for,) you get to experience many whole new stories. My favorites so far are Margaret Atwood's surprisingly infuriating The War in the Bathroom, Truman Capote's creepy Miri As a collection of the first PUBLISHED short stories of famous and influential writers, some of the works are still a little rough, or may seem unfamiliar from the style these authors later hone to. However, it doesn't fail as entertaining. Eye opening, (as these aren't as heard from as the works these writers were made famous for,) you get to experience many whole new stories. My favorites so far are Margaret Atwood's surprisingly infuriating The War in the Bathroom, Truman Capote's creepy Miriam, Philip Roth's shattering The Day it Snowed, and the works of writers I previously was unaware of--Harold Brodkey's The State of Grace and James Baldwin's Previous Condition--both hard hitting works in their own right. I can't wait to finish reading these. It's truly something to be reading the firsts of these many, varied writers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I discovered this in the used books annex of Brookline Booksmith several months ago, when I was making a new attempt to write some short stories myself. Reading the earliest published works by the likes of Updike, Smiley, O'Connor, Capote, Atwood, Munro, and dozens more is fun and instructive. Like a detective, I enjoy finding clues in the early works to what have since become the authors' persistent concerns (and gestures).

  7. 4 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    ...egh. I started reading this with the intention of reducing my own feelings of intimidation regarding the possible publishing of some of my fiction. No go. The stories in this anthology are excellent. I think I'll just go back to writing poetry, now.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    First Fiction: An Anthology of the First Published Stories by Famous Writers by Kathy Kiernan (1994)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gerry LaFemina

    What a fun read--some of the stories aren't as good as you might think, and some are wonderfully surprising. It's a great glimpse of writers figuring out who they are with several true gems!

  10. 5 out of 5

    mandy

    haven't read this in a while. Setting is aside for now....

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    A great little collection of short stories. I was surprised by many of these. Some of the stories that I loved were: Miriam by Truman Capote - Such a Pretty Little Picture by Dorothy Parker Gimpel the Fool by Isaac Bashevis Singer And Baby Makes Three by Jane Smiley Report on the Barnhouse Effect by Kurt Vonnegut To Hell with Dying by Alice Walker

  12. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Although I read this book many years ago and it has been sitting on a bookshelf in my home since then, I am not sure I am ready to part with it yet. What a great idea to form an anthology using the first published stories by famous writers! I just wish it was done in a larger font since my eyes don't like small print very well these days.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jean

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abby Figat

  20. 5 out of 5

    MJ

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nichelle

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brigit

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julia

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