I like to dip into this book every now and then at random to pick a short story to read. Not sure all of them deserve the label "masterpieces". Some feel dated like 'Young Goodman Brown' (1835), which even Hawthorne repeatedly decided not to include in his early collections of stories. Why? Maybe because it deals with too many big themes in a small space. I personally don't think it lends itself well to a short story tho' Melville found it powerfully disturbing...so what do I know? Some of the 30 stories collected in this book do hold up well over time like Chekov's 'The Lady with the Dog' (1899), for instance. I never tire of re-reading it, and always find something to admire in his technique as he dissects his characters with surgical precision. It provides a marvelous slice of life in turn-of-the-century Russia. Without trying to shove any moralizing down the reader's throat, I might add. The collection provides an ample range of fiction up to contemporary writers such as Joyce Carol Oates (a better short-story writer than novelist perhaps). Not all of the selections necessarily best represent the authors, though. Is James Joyce's 'Araby' really that masterful? Does 'The Pupil' really do Henry James justice? So to me the word "masterpiece" is a little misleading in the title of this handy short-story collection.
eBook The Short Story