Friday, December 11, 2015

1965: the short fiction annuals (and their dramatic cousin): Friday's Books

The Best American Short Stories 1965 edited by Martha Foley and David Burnett 
The 10th Annual of the Year’s Best S-F edited by Judith Merril 
Best Detective Stories of the Year, 20th Annual Collection edited by Anthony Boucher 
World's Best Science Fiction: 1965 edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr 
Prize Stories 1965: The O. Henry Awards edited by Richard Poirier and William Abrahams 
The Best Plays of 1964-1965 edited by Otis L. Guernsey, Jr.
The Great SF Stories: 1964 edited by Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg (2001)

In 1965, the five best of the year fiction annuals (imagine a time where only five such series existed, one new that year) were facing some number magic: the 50th annual Best American Short Stories (there was also a 50th anniversary best of the series); the 20th annual of Year's Best Detective Stories; the 10th volume of Judith Merril's annual (the only series still being edited by its founder, aside from the new one), the first as noted from Donald Wollheim and Terry Carr; and the 45th volume of The O. Henry Awards (which lost a few volumes after the then-current editor in 1951 died unexpectedly, and Doubleday was clearly considering discontinuing the series, before eventually continuing several years later). There's number magic in regards to these volumes now, as well: they are  fifty years old this year (and there's a "Century of BASS" volume this year along with the annual series entry); and for me there's a personal number magic, inasmuch as the stories collected in these volumes were mostly first published in the year I first emerged into the world, too: 1964. (The O. Henry book, as they did in those years, collects stories first published from June 1963 to June '64; the other volumes might have a few stragglers, too.) The Foley and the Merril saw both hardcover and paperback editions; the other three saw only one edition each (the first Ace annual didn't get a book club edition, as later volumes would; the Boucher and Poirier/Abrahams probably did get the cheaper hardcovers, but no paperbacks). 

Meanwhile, the fiction annuals, which had had as accompaniment a humor annual for three volumes at the turn of the 1950s, and would soon after 1965 see the advent of Best Magazine Article and Best Political Cartoon annuals in the US, did have a yearbook cousin in The Best Plays annual, which underwent its own major change in 1965, when founding editor Burns Mantle was succeeded by Owen Guernsey, who would edit or co-edit the series for some decades. My memory of looking at some of the 1970s volumes was hazier than I thought, as I'd remembered the volumes reprinting the entirety of the selected plays, when actually they instead featured synopses and excerpts of the scripts, with the first-time exception in the 1965 volume (the 48th), perhaps because of a book contract elsewhere for Neil Simon, of an extensive photo sequence instead,  representing The Odd Couple...with Art Carney playing Felix along with Walter Matthau as Oscar.

Fuller reviews of these books will be forthcoming over the next week, as I get further along in each (I'm reading or rereading each more or less together, and these are not slender volumes!), and I hope to present an interview with Kit Reed, among much else the author of the lead-off story in the Merril volume, "Automatic Tiger"...perhaps the story which got her the most early attention in fantasy and sf circles (and her career has been one rather gracefully devoted to fantastic fiction, crime fiction and contemporary-mimetic fiction in nearly equal measure).  Meanwhile, along with introducing/presenting the only image online I'm aware of the Best Plays volume's cover (with a gracious assist from Alice Chang)(my copy deaccessioned from the Belfast public library, of all places), I will at least provide some preliminary indices...and perhaps even a few more comments over the course of the day.  (I will note that Flannery O'Connor's lead-off story in the O. Henry volume, "Revelation," was offered the "first prize" in this volume, I suspect, more as memorial for her than as measured judgement of this story, not, I'd suggest, one of the best she'd published, though solid work.)

Indices below; for more of today's books, almost all more thoroughly considered, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Indices courtesy William Contento/Galactic Central
and WorldCat

And, in 2001, a latecomer chose to join this company, in the form of Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg's one-volume continuation of the Great SF Stories series Greenberg had been editing with Isaac Asimov...the last Asimov volume, finished up as Asimov lay dying, also treated with stories from the year 1963, meant to be the last in that series from DAW Books since DAW's own first annual, the World's Best SF cited above, began in '65 choosing among 1964 publication. But Silverberg, Greenberg and NESFA Press were all game, and gave a revival a shot...apparently to little response, critically or commercially, in the wake of the 11 September attacks and whatever else drew attention away.  Eppur si muove. 

    • 1 · Center of Gravity · L. J. Amster · nv The Saturday Evening Post Mar 14 1964
    • 45 · The Returning · Daniel De Paola · ss Prairie Schooner Spr 1964
    • 57 · The Transient · Stanley Elkin · nv The Saturday Evening Post Apr 25 1964
    • 93 · Opening Day · Jack Gilchrist · ss Georgia Review Spr 1964, as by John Shafter
    • 99 · The Gesture · James W. Groshong · ss The Antioch Review Sum 1964
    • 113 · Sarah · Martin J. Hamer · ss Atlantic Monthly Jan 1964
    • 125 · Sherry · Maureen Howard · nv The Hudson Review Aut 1964
    • 167 · A Family Man · Donald Hutter · ss The Saturday Evening Post Feb 22 1964
    • 187 · The Month of His Birthday · Henia Karmel-Wolfe · ss Mademoiselle Dec 1964
    • 199 · Heart of Gold · Mary Lavin · nv The New Yorker Jun 27 1964
    • 223 · A Blue Blonde in the Sky Over Pennsylvania · Dennis Lynds · ss The Hudson Review Spr 1964
    • 241 · The Guest · Frederic Morton · ss The Hudson Review Win 1964
    • 251 · The Application · Jay Neugeboren · ss Transatlantic Review Oct 1964
    • 259 · First Views of the Enemy · Joyce Carol Oates · ss Prairie Schooner Spr 1964
    • 271 · The Practice of an Art · Leonard Wallace Robinson · ss The Saturday Evening Post Sep 5 1964
    • 283 · A Sacrifice · Isaac Bashevis Singer · ss Harper’s Feb 1964
    • 291 · Eskimo Pies · Robert Somerlott · ss Atlantic Monthly Jan 1964
    • 299 · The Visit · Elizabeth Spencer · ss Prairie Schooner Sum 1964
    • 313 · The Tea Time of Stouthearted Ladies · Jean Stafford · ss The Kenyon Review Win 1964
    • 325 · For I Have Wept · Gerald Stein · ss The Saturday Evening Post Jan 4-11 1964
    • 345 · There · Peter Taylor · nv The Kenyon Review Win 1964
    • 371 · The Last Right · Lee Yu-Hwa · ss The Literary Review Sum 1964
    • 385 · Biographical Notes · [Misc.] · bg
    • 393 · The Yearbook of the American Short Story, January 1 to December 31, 1964 · [Misc.] · bi

Best detective stories of the year : 20th annual collection

Author:Anthony Boucher
Publisher:New York : E.P. Dutton & Co., 1965.
Description:271 pages ; 21 cm
Contents:H as in homicide / Lawrence Treat --
Routine investigation / Robert Twohy --
No way out / Dennis Lynds --
Payoff / Ellery Queen --
Temple by the river / Leon Comber --
Return of Schlock Homes / Robert L Fish --
Short and simple annals / Dan J. Marlowe --
Ingenious mind of Mr. Rigby Lacksome / Ernest Bramah --
Credit to Shakespeare / Julian Symons --
A soliloquy in tongues / William Wiser --
Papa Tral's harvest / Barry Perowne --
Blurred view / John D. MacDonald --
Reunion / Edward D. Hoch --
Violet / Hal Ellson --
A case for the UN / Miriam Allen deFord --
Legacy of office / Rog Phillips.

Prize stories 1965 : the O. Henry Awards

Author:Richard PoirierWilliam Miller Abrahams
Publisher:Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday & Co., 1965.
Description:xii, 295 pages ; 22 cm.
Contents:Introduction / by William Abrahams --
Revelation / Flannery O'Connor --
Ocean / Sanford Friedman --
The ballad of Jesse Neighbours / William Humphrey --
Homecoming / Tom Mayer --
Mama and the spy / Eva Manoff --
Sunday's children / Nancy A.J. Potter --
Margins / Donald Barthelme --
If lost return to the Swiss Arms / Leon Rooke --
There / Peter Taylor --
Come Lady Death / Peter S. Beagle --
First views of the enemy / Joyce Carol Oates --
Fifty-fifty / Leonard Wolf --
Sucker / Carson McCullers --
Love in the winter / Daniel Curley --
A woman of her age / Jack Ludwig --
What I wish (oh, I wish) I had said / Arthur Cavanaugh --
The hounds of summer / Mary McCarthy --
Chaos, disorder and the late show / Warren Miller.

The Best plays of 1964-65

Author:Otis L Guernsey
Publisher:New York : Dodd Mead, ©1965.

434 pages : illustrations by Al Hirschfeld ; 24 cm.

photo essay: The Odd Couple by Neil Simon
Frank D. Gilroy, The subject was roses--
Joseph Stein, Fiddler on the roof--
Friedrich Duerrenmatt, The physicists--
Murray Schisgal, Luv--
Jean Anouilh, Poor Bitos--
William Hanley, Slow dance on the killing ground--
Arthur Miller, Incident at Vichy--
LeRoi Jones, The toilet--
Edward Albee, Tiny Alice.

    The Great SF Stories: 1964 ed. Robert Silverberg & Martin H. Greenberg (NESFA Press 1-886778-21-3, 
    Jan 2002, $25.00, 395pp, hc, cover by Eddie Jones) Anthology of 15 stories first published in 1964, 
    a continuation of the series originally edited by Isaac Asimov and Greenberg. Authors include Norman 
    Spinrad, Poul Anderson, and John Brunner. Foreword and introduction by Silverberg, who discusses 
    why he decided to do the anthology, and the state of the US and science fiction in 1964. 
    Order from NESFA Press, PO Box 809, Framingham MA 01701; [].


    George said...

    I read many of these books back in 1965! As Sinatra would sing, "It Was A Very Good Year."

    Todd Mason said...

    And I imagine he might've been happy to sing that in '65. I might just marshall a few thoughts on the film THE DETECTIVE, soon....the coincidence of change and/or round numbers or half-round numbers(!) in their sequence was pretty irresistible, particularly given how influential some of that fiction, and a few of those plays and playwrights, have been on me.

    Though the recording I have owned of that slightly goofy song has been on the Modern Folk Quartet LP. It poured a bit saccharine but clear! I suppose there are worse ways to measure one's life than by the sex one's had.

    Jack Seabrook said...

    You may not realize it, but by posting the contents lists of these books you do a service to future researchers. I have found that some of the stories reprinted in these volumes are not available anywhere else, other than the original source, and the books are very cheap to come by.

    Todd Mason said...

    Frequently they are hard to come by in other than these reprint annuals and the original publications they are abstracted from (when there is such)...and most of what I add is the concentration of the data in this manner, though, as with the SHORT STORY INTERNATIONAL best-of anthology WORLD'S BEST CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORIES, I was also glad to take the opportunity to put a cover of a book (BEST PLAYS) online that apparently wasn't visible anywhere so far.