Michael Chabon on "Entertainment" in Literature
...and why it's given a bad (and very limited) name. The essay is his introduction to Best American Short Stories of 2005.
I have no idea if these are the twenty best short stories published in the United States during 2004, or not. And neither do you. Or rather, you may feel very strongly that they are not, or that some of the stories here deserve the honor and some don’t. But as you make your assessment — as you judge the product of my judgment — you will be relying, whether consciously, unconsciously, or in full-blown denial, on the same fundamental criterion as that on which I relied: the degree to which each of these stories catches hold of you, banishes everything but the interplay of your imagination and the author’s, your ear and the author’s, your solitude and the author’s. That’s entertainment.