[...] a high percentage of the most exciting fiction written in the last twenty-five years--the stuff I immediately mention if someone asks me what's terrific--has been short fiction. There's the Great One herself, naturally. There's also Lydia Davis, David Means, George Saunders, Amy Hempel, and the late Raymond Carver--all of them pure or nearly pure short-story writers--and then a larger group of writers who have achievements in multiple genres (John Updike, Joy Williams, David Foster Wallace, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Denis Johnson, Ann Beattie, William T. Vollmann, Tobias Wolff, Annie Proulx, Michael Chabon, Tom Drury, the late Andre Dubus) but who seem to me most at home, most undilutedly themselves, in their shorter work. There are also, to be sure, some very fine pure novelists. But when I close my eyes and think about literature in recent decades, I see a twilight landscape in which many of the most inviting lights, the sites that beckon me to return for a visit, are shed by particular short stories I've read.