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PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009 Paperback – May 5, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The 90th anniversary edition of this prestigious collection is a must-read for both aspiring writers and devoted short story readers.... This year’s prize winners reflect the increasingly robust, diverse, and international flavor or the genre in general.” —Booklist

“Widely regarded as the nation's most prestigious awards for short fiction.”
The Atlantic Monthly

“The annual O. Henry Prize Stories provide a barometer of contemporary emotional and political concerns.... Stories that refract our present world.”
Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Laura Furman's work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, and other magazines. She is the founding editor of the highly regarded American Short Fiction (three-time finalist for the American Magazine Award). A professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, she teaches in the graduate James A. Michener Center for writers. She lives in Austin.
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Product Details

  • Series: Pen / O. Henry Prize Stories
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 2009 ed. edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307280357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307280350
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,670,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was hopeful that this year's O. Henry Prize Stories anthology (which adds the PEN organization to its title and support) would be one of the best ever, since I thoroughly enjoyed the first two stories in the volume. Editor Laura Furman tends to gravitate towards stories of dark themes, which can lead to an anthology with less than mass market appeal, and yet the first two stories were very gripping. Alas, over the course of the volume, I felt there were a few duds that reduced my overall rating to four stars.

Different stories will appeal to different people for different reasons. Here are the stories that appealed most to me:

-- Graham Joyce's "An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen": surprisingly, I agree with two of the three prize jurists, who selected this story as the best in the collection. It hooks and keeps the reader's interest, works on several levels, and progresses at an even pace from well-grounded reality into schizophrenic madness. It's not quite an all-time classic story, but definitely worth reading.

-- Paul Theroux's "Twenty-two Stories": just as the name would suggest, this short story consists of twenty-two roughly one page stories, each of which presents the germ of an idea that an author could elaborate and build upon to create a traditional length short story. The very interesting thing is how well each of these microscopic stories works on a stand-alone basis - think of them as highly concentrated, distilled stories, such as might be told around a campfire.

-- Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum's "The Nursery": a well-disguised horror story about a mother's suffocating love, and how her attempts at protection backfire.
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Format: Paperback
BOOKLIST REVIEW

The PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories, 2009
Furman, Laura (Editor) May 2009. 464 p. Anchor, paperback, $15.00. (978030780350).

The 90th anniversary edition of this prestigious collection is a must-read for both aspiring writers and devoted short story readers. Selected from among short stories originally written in English and published in an American or Canadian periodical during the past year, this year's prizewinners reflect the increasingly robust, diverse, and international flavor of the genre in general. While familiar literary stalwarts like Paul Theroux ("Twenty-two Stories"), Nadine Gordimer ("A Beneficiary"), Graham Joyce (An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen"), and John Burnside ("The Bell Ringer") are included, the collection is distinguished, as always, by an array of fresh-voiced newcomers such as Caitlin Horrocks ("This Is Not Your City"), L.E. Miller ("Kind"), Manuel Munoz ("Tell Him about Brother John"),and Mohan Sikka ("Uncle Musto Takes a Mistress"). Most illuminating are the authors' own reflections on their stories and incisive essays by jurors A.S. Byatt, Anthony Doerr, and Tim O'Brien on their favorites.

--Margaret Flanagan

KIRKUS REVIEW (March 15, 2009)

Furman, Laura-Ed.THE PEN/O. HENRY PRIZE STORIES 2009

The 90th-anniversary edition of the annual prize awarded in recognition of short stories published in the United States and Canada.Time was, and not so long ago, that the story writers had to be American or Canadian, but the prize has since opened to those writing in English elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback
Really? These twenty-odd writings represent the best in short story fiction? None of these flat, dull stories about flat, dull people ever takes off. And while several of the writers are indeed famous, what we have here is his or her D-list stuff. After a lifetime of near reverence for the O. Henry Prize, my patience has worn thin. Certainly nothing in "2009" has the deep human interest, insightful understanding, and memorable plot twists of O. Henry's works.
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