November 15, 1993 12:00 PM

>Louise Erdrich

SWEET ON SHORT STORIES

WHEN IT CAME TO SELECTING THE Best American Short Stories of 1993. editor Louise Erdrich sank her teeth into the task. Propped up on pillows in her reading corner, she chewed over the entries’ merits, fortified by a case of licorice. “I like the red better,” says Erdrich, 39, “but you feel more professional eating black,”

Erdrich, most famous for magical novels inspired by her Chippewa heritage, considered 120 blind entries winnowed from 2,500 by series editor Katrina Kenison. Though she tried to identify the authors (“I’m a very bad guesser. I didn’t even get John Updike right!”), she says there was no mistaking the power of the stories she picked: “They grab you by the collar and spin you around.” So moved was Erdrich by Thorn Jones’s “I Want to Live!”—the wrenching account of a woman’s battle with cancer—thai she went and got a blood test.

Best is one of a bumper crop of new books from the Erdrich household. Husband Michael Dorris is out promoting his short-story collection, Working Men. Later this month an expanded version of Erdrich’s first novel Love Medicine will appear, followed in January by The Bingo Palace, the fourth in her Native American series. The couple aims to have their books published on the 18th of the month—in honor of the birthdays of two of their three young daughters. (They also have two grown children.)

Proud as Erdrich is of Best, she does have one regret. Her nepotism rule forced her to exclude both her husband and her sister, Lise Erdrich. But, she says, “I’m going to find out who’s editing it next year and lean on them!

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