American Short Story Masterpieces Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What reason does Raymond Carver give about why he wanted to compose this collection of short stories?

In the introduction, Raymond Carver states that he and Tom Jenks wanted to compile this particular collection of short stories because the recent trend in literary publication tended towards science-fiction and fantasy. Carver and Jenks wanted to publish realistic stories that would emotionally move their readers.

2. What types of authors did Jenks and Carver seek to publish in this short story collection?

In this short story collection, editors Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks sought realistic, contemporary authors who had published works between 1953-1986. They sought work that would emotionally resonate with readers and works written solely by American authors. They also sought work that occurred within a short time frame, not a broad time span in the stories.

3. What prompts the narrator in "Sonny's Blues" to reach out to his incarcerated brother?

In the story "Sonny's Blues," the narrator bemoans the fact that his brother, Sonny, has recently been arrested for selling and using heroin. Unexpectedly, the narrator's daughter dies of polio and he finds himself reaching out to his brother for support. Sonny responds to his brother's letter which sparks a conversation for the first time in over a year between the brothers.

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