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The O. Henry Prize Stories 2006: The Best Stories of the Year Paperback – May 9, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
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.Read more ›