Among the best short story writers (top row): John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver; (Bottom row): Ron Rash, Flannery O’Connor and Richard Ford

And the rocket’s red glare. The bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there From The Star Spangled Banner (1814)(...)

Russell Banks: his narrators are people who convince us of their pain and, often, their anger. Photograph: Oscar Hidalgo/New York Times

Fiftysomething Howard is not the nicest man who ever lived. But he is fortunate: even his former wife tries to help him, and she even persuaded her mo(...)