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The O. Henry Prize Stories 2006: The Best Stories of the Year Paperback – May 9, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400095395
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400095391
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,087,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Series editor Furman (Drinking with the Cook) casts a wide net in the latest installment of the long running award collection, aided by "jurors" Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose and Colm Tóibín, whose functions remain impressively unclear. Most of the prize stories turn on romance: in Alice Munro's "Passion" (already published in her collection Runaway), a Canadian waitress falls for her fiancé's alcoholic brother when he mends her cut foot at a Thanksgiving family dinner. Behind the noir gravities of "Sault Ste. Marie," by the American David Means loom the long shadows of The Postman Always Rings Twice; in Xu Xi's "Famine," a middle-aged school teacher from Hong Kong attempts to rid herself of her aged parents' thrift through a blowout at the Plaza. Others stories turn surreal. David Lawrence Means takes us to Ceta, a society that lives on the back of a great whale (in "Conceived"), while in Stephanie Reents's "Disquisition on Tears," a recluse is visited by an intrusive, hectoring woman without a head. The best story in the book might be Pulitzer Prize–winner Edward P. Jones's "Old Boys, Old Girls," in which a battered antihero feels the powerful lure of innocence as he meets family members born during his incarceration for murder in a powerful, moving encounter. (May 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The 20 short stories in this marvelous collection were chosen by series editor Furman in consultation with jurors Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose, and Colm Toibin. The stories range in style from the gritty noir of David Means' "Sault Ste. Marie" to the mesmerizing mythmaking of Louise Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves," while the settings include a village perched on top of an enormous whale (David Lawrence Morse's "Conceived") as well as a swank suite at the Plaza Hotel (Xu Xi's "Famine"). The three most powerful stories seem to have in common the ability to immerse readers in a character's sudden, searing moment of self-knowledge and the way that insight impacts the course of a life. In Edward P. Jones' elegiac, masterful "Old Boys, Old Girls," a hard-bitten con comes to see that redemption is within his reach. Deborah Eisenberg delicately deconstructs a young girl's attraction to an abusive man in the haunting "Windows." And, finally, the storied Alice Munro, in "Passion," conveys the complex inner world of a teenager who discovers she values risk over security. Outstanding reading. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By cs211 on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As in her two previous volumes (2003, 2005 - there was no O. Henry Prize volume dated 2004, forever throwing a kink into the collection on my bookshelf), series editor Laura Furman has gravitated toward subject matter that can only be described as dark and depressing. Yet the stories are so well written that the net effect is one of being moved by the power of the written word to experience aspects of the human condition well beyond the everyday. This is what good literature is supposed to do, and I would rank this year's volume as Furman's best so far.

To get an idea of the subject matter covered in this volume, one only has to take a careful look at some of the titles: "Mule Killers", "The Broad Estates of Death", "Disquisition on Tears", "The Plague of Doves", and "Famine". Other titles sound benign, however the subject matter is anything but (e.g. the last two stories, "Letters in the Snow" and "Window" are both about domestic abuse). But in all the stories, the subject matter isn't anywhere near the most important element. These stories expose the thought, logic and emotions that the characters caught in these situations experience, and hence take the reader into interesting places that are best experienced vicariously.

Each reader will no doubt have his/her own list of favorite stories. Mine were:
-- "Window", by Deborah Eisenberg: I agree wholeheartedly with guest editor Francine Prose's assessment that the language, wording and pacing of Eisenberg's story are excellent, and that this story is the best of the best. There is even some humor sprinkled in at appropriate moments.
-- "Wolves", by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer: this is a portrait of the final stage of a long marriage, in which creations of the mind take on a reality of their own (perhaps).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Cruikshank on June 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a fabulous collection. It's worth it alone for the story by the rising star author, Stephanie Reents, called "Disquistion on Tears," which is not only a poignant, moving story, but also wonderfully strange and funny. Reents creates a hybrid of sorts. It's a literary short story first and foremost, but it also seems to contain elements of horror, magical realism, and other genres. The Alice Munroe stuff is great, too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I agree with the first reviewer that the stories in this collection are dark and depressing. I like the way the collection is selected. While Laura Furman is the editor, there are three additional jurors - - Kenin Brockmeier, Francine Prose and Colm Toibin.

Of the 20 stories in this collection, there were only two that knocked my socks off. The others were nothing spectacular and I doubt I'll remember them one month from now. The two I really liked were 'Passion' by Alice Munro and 'Wolves' by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.

'Passion' is a strange story about a woman returning to the home of her ex-fiance, the place where her engagement and life unraveled all in a fit of unbridled passion over the course of one weekend.

'Wolves' is a spectacular story of loneliness, the power of the mind, aging, and the difficulty of sorting our reality from imagination. In this story, a couple who have been together for 40 years are growing both more dependent on one another yet more distant. The wife has some animosity towards her husband which she takes out in a passive aggressive manner. They have a word game that they have played over the years. One says a word and then the other adds to it, plays with it, and then passes it pack to their partner. On once occasion, the husband says the word 'wolf'. The wife keeps the word, plays with it in her head, imagines a real wolf that comes to her and helps her abide with her loneliness. The wolf is also dangerous because it is wild and unknown. It can be treacherous and unpredictable. Tragedy can and does occur.

For me, it was worth reading this collection for these two stories. I know that 'Passion' is in a collection of stories by Alice Munro but I have never seen 'Wolf' before.
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