Just a little nudge, friends, toward the Best American series: Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories. I read to steal, as you know, and for treasure just lying there and glittering, there’s nothing like this series. If I’m working on poems, I sneak into short fiction. If I’m writing stories, I pick the lock of poetry. (You know I’m not talking about plagiarism, but about seeing how others have done it and then seeing if I can do it, too. In my own way.)
There’s nothing wrong with reading what my mother called trash, and inspiration can come from unlikely places, but the BA series is quality swag. For people who hate poetry, there are always surprises. For innovation, the short stories never fail to surprise me. And some of the writing in the essays is flat out sublime.
Most libraries have these going back a lot of years. Give them a look. I know you won’t be disappointed.
The O. Henry Award stories are always worth a look too (though I'm not sure if they still do these).