The Best American Short Stories, of all the annual story anthologies, seems to have the biggest following among readers. The series has been around in one form or another since 1915 and has published short fiction by pretty much all of America’s best-known (and many more lesser known) practitioners of the form.
The series’ long history and comprehensive reach makes it a unique chronicle of the form. With that in mind, when I got a note from a reader about a collection of BASS data he had put together, I was very intrigued. Jake has spent the last year or so reading his way through the last 30 years of BASS collections and writing about it at a site called Years of BASS. As part of this project, he put together a spreadsheet of all the 639 stories that appeared in the collection from 1978 to 2008.
Folks who want to dig into the info can find it as a Google Spreadsheet here, but I went ahead and pulled some numbers from the aggregated data.
Interestingly, Alice Munro, though Canadian, has made the most BASS appearances over the last 30 years by a wide margin with 18 appearances. After her come some more of the leading lights of short fiction: Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike with nine stories each; Mavis Gallant (another Canadian) with eight; Joy Williams and Tobias Wolff with seven stories a piece; Lorrie Moore and Rick Bass with six stories each; and Charles Baxter, Raymond Carver, and Tim Gautreaux with five stories each.
All told, these writers have accounted for about 13%. Writers with four or more stories have accounted for 21% of all the stories in the series; writers with three or more, 31% of the stories; and writers with two or more, for 52% of the series. This means that writers who had only one BASS story during the 30-year span accounted for about 48% of the stories in the series during that time.
The gender split, meanwhile, turns out to be quite equal: 47% female and 53% male.
If you dig into the spreadsheet and uncover anything else interesting, let us know. And as a point of comparison, check out New Yorker Fiction by the Numbers.