Short stories have long been regarded as a potent form of writing. Concentrated and distilled yet engaging the reader at a pace that commands attention in the pages it occupies. Narrative and characters are still fully fleshed and the story is usually no longer, or shorter, than it needs to be. Handed down from the oral tradition they have been variously regarded as ‘apprentice pieces'written by authors on their way to becoming better writers as well as fodder for innumerable periodicals over the decades for those who liked their reading in more succinct chunks or perhaps with a ‘cliffhanger ending'to keep the interest until the next exciting instalment. Today they are regarded as works in their own right and, in the pens of the most highly skilled, to be greatly admired. In this series we take the very best of those American Short stories and present them here, year by year, for you.