A review of

The Best Seats In The House

by Keith Lee Morris

Central question: Can men who were born to lose ever achieve the dreams of their youth?
Format: 208 pp., hardcover; Size: 5.5” x 9”; Price: $23; Publisher: University of Nevada Press; Editor: Joanne O’Hare; Book designer: Carrie House; Typeface: Quadraat Regular; Stories were written over the course of: 15 years; Author’s current occupation: Assistant professor of English at Clemson University; Author has lived in: Mississippi, Idaho, New Orleans, California, and Spokane, Washington (all places that appear in the book); “The Silver Valley,” from the collection, is based on: the Sunshine Mine disaster; Representative sentence: “I value the truth less than our shared illusion of an unviolated marriage.”

Let’s everyone stop mentioning the supposed death of the American short story. I don’t know which louse in the academy started that foul rumor, but not only is the short story not dead, it’s never even been close to sick. Despite the recent successes of Jhumpa Lahiri and Adam Haslett, among others, an immensely skillful story writer such as Keith Morris still must settle on a small university press that neither pays nor publicizes. Morris’s stirring debut collection, The Best Seats in the House and Other Stories, will not find lovers of the short story; lovers of the short story must find it.

Morris is heir to the Richard Ford of Rock Springs; he has that rare gift of writing truthfully about people we know and care for: the commoners who are forced to make their own luck in life, confused fathers and sons coming to terms with each other, blue-collar husbands and wives trying to hold on to what remains.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—William Giraldi

William Giraldi’s essay “Let There Be Darkness: In Defense of Depressing Literature” appeared in the October 2004 issue of the Believer.

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