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O. Henry Prize Stories 2005 (Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories) Paperback – January 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400076544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400076543
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,466,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Whether culled from literary journals or glossier publications, the stories included in this year's O. Henry collection tend toward the polished, dense and emotionally complex. The best entries also add a burst of something brighter: a strong narrative voice, inventiveness or sheer exuberance. Among the standouts is Kevin Brockmeier's "A Short History of the Dead," which offers a brief but compelling take on mortality as the dead remember the final events of their lives while passing through a way station "city" before they move on to their ultimate afterlife destination. Sherman Alexie's poignant "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" follows an alcoholic, homeless Native American who finds his grandmother's tribal regalia in a Seattle pawnshop and embarks on a quixotic quest to recover his legacy. And Ron Rash's sardonic "Speckled Trout" describes an unfortunate incident in which a brash young thief briefly makes a killing when he stumbles into a hidden stash of marijuana plants, only to have the owner turn the tables by planting a bear trap near his prized crop. Much of the rest of the collection is noticeably monochromatic, with stories that revolve dutifully around relationships, exile and loneliness. Though points are scored for accomplished prose and thoughtful conceits, what's missing are entries driven by humor, dialogue and riskier, more unconventional storytelling. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This year's O. Henry collection is in honor of the centennial of Anton Chekhov's death. Series editor Furman believes that it is Chekhov who "showed us that the precise and subtle evocation of a moment can express a character's whole life." The authors range from infamous critic Dale Peck to revered agrarian Wendell Berry. The locations are also widespread, from Berry's Kentucky, to India, France, and a place that may be heaven or hell. Standouts include the opening World War I coming-of-age story by Elizabeth Stuckey-French as well as Ben Fountain's slightly surreal "Fantasy for Eleven Fingers." This year's jurors are authors Cristina Garcia, Anne Patchett, and Richard Russo. Their brief essays on their favorite stories shed new light on the works. The authors' blurbs on their own stories are less revealing but also interesting. As usual, this collection of the year's best English-language stories contains something for everyone. Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2005
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This year's prize anthology is dedicated to Anton Chekhov, the father of the modern short story. Even though none of these stories can be considered a masterpiece, they are all indebted to Chekhov's legacy of an unflinching look at human psychology. Although some of these stories are found in The Best American Short Stories 2004 ("What You Pawn, I Will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie; "A Rich Man" by Edward P. Jones: "Grace" by Paula Fox; "The Tutor" by Nell Freudenberger), most are different, making this anthology a good companion to the other.

Many of these stories are about divorce and parental abandonment, often from the child's point of view. "Mudlavia" by Elizabeth Stuckey-French tells of a boy with what the doctors think is rheumatoid arthritis. He and his mother travel one summer to a spa where they are introduced to a world outside their own. Meanwhile, the boy's father remains at home and is seen by one of the boy's closest friends (who writes to him) with his beautiful "cousin." "The Tutor" is also about the loss, both psychological and real, of a parent, although the themes and emotions run in much more complicated directions. American Julia is in Bombay, living with her father after her mother moved out and hoping to escape to college. Zubin, an American and British education Indian, tutors her for her SATs, and through their relationship, teaches her other essentials things about life. The protagonist of "The High Divide" by Charles D'Ambrosio is a boy living in an orphanage who is befriended by a "public school kid" and his family. The boy, who has lost his father to mental illness, witnesses his friend's own loss as they hike to the High Divide.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By cs211 on January 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In her second year editing the O. Henry Prize Stories, Laura Furman once again demonstrates a preference for stories of a tragic, dark nature. "Mudlavia", the first story in the book, concerns a boy's broken family and a life-threatening disease. It is followed by stories whose subject matter is apparent from their titles: "The Brief History of the Dead", "The Golden Era of Heartbreak", "The Hurt Man". Other stories in this collection include "Desolation", "Snowbound", and "The Drowned Woman". So, if lighthearted entertaining reading is what you seek, you are advised to look elsewhere. If, however, you want to read well-written short stories of substance, which are actually not as depressing as one might fear, then I definitely recommend the 2005 edition of The O. Henry Prize Stories.

My favorite story in this year's collection is Ben Fountain's "Fantasy for Eleven Fingers", an exceedingly well-crafted story about the tribulations of an unusually endowed pianist caught up in the religious and political hostilities of turn-of-the-20th century Europe. The story reminds us that, try as we might, we cannot completely separate art and beauty from the gritty realities and problems of the world. Other favorites of mine include the aforementioned "Mudlavia" by Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Edward P. Jones' "A Rich Man", which also appeared in the 2004 Best American Short Stories anthology. Each of these stories is entertaining and captures the reader's interest, while at the same time conveying important ideas and observations about the human condition.

The 2005 edition of the O. Henry Prize Stories has four stories in common with the 2004 Best American Short Stories collection. Both anthologies contain stories published in 2003, but the O.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lila Hope on April 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
A collection that is easy to read but hard to put down. For those who have little time on hand, these short stories will captivate you just as much as full length (whatever that means) fictions, but are in the meantime much less consuming. A good diversity in styles, both with respect to form and content. Bonus: a composition of short biographies for each author at the back of the book, which introduces the readers to other work by these authors -- a good place to go for additional reading recommendations.
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Format: Paperback
I have been reading the annual O Henry Awards for about 10 years now and look forward every year to its publication. The new editor changed the date it's published as well as the format a few years ago (the top three winners had been the first three stories in the collection with an introduction written by a judge, but now they are mixed in with the judges thoughts at the end of the collection) Although I didn't like this change at first, this idea actually let me, the reader, decide which short story I thought was best without knowing which ones the judges chose. I also enjoyed the inclusion of a short blip from each author about what inspired/influenced them for this particular story. Again, these were listed at the end of the entire collection. All in all, a wonderful reading experience. I recommend it to everyone who loves a good story and who enjoys a variety of topics and styles - which can easily be found in this collection of works from various prize-winning authors.
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