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Prize Stories 2000: The O. Henry Awards (Pen / O. Henry Prize Stories) Paperback – September 12, 2000
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Granted, some of this reflects the taste of the series editor, Larry Dark, who selects the 20 award stories from 3,000 or so contenders each year. First-, second-, and third-place winners are decided on by a panel of prize jurors--for 2000, Pam Houston, George Saunders, and Cunningham. Whether it confirms your suspicions about American publishing or seems more or less inevitable, many of these O. Henry stories are by well-known writers, among them Russell Banks, Mary Gordon, Andrea Barrett, and John Edgar Wideman. (Wideman wins first prize here for "Weight," which Cunningham describes as a combination of autobiography and fiction that "spill over into each other because the story's messy, deeply personal emotions require it.") Nathan Englander, an exceptionally well-placed newcomer, is represented with "The Gilgul of Park Avenue." There is a minor, posthumously published Raymond Carver story as well ("Kindling"), a fictional treatment of material that he had also addressed in a poem called "To Begin With."
Among the newer writers, Judy Budnitz ("Flush") and Kevin Brockmeier stand out for their unexpected observations and their devotion to the word. In Brockmeier's luminous love story, "These Hands," a male nanny forms a helpless, permanent attachment to his 18-month-old charge. Leaving her bedroom one night after putting her in the crib, he lifts a red plastic See 'n Say from the toyshelf and points its dial at the picture of a lion:
This, said the machine, is a robin, and it whittered a little aria. When he turned the dial to a picture of a lamb on a tussock of grass, it said the same thing. Dog and pony, monkey and elephant: robin--twit twit whistle. Lewis set the toy against a wall, listening to the cough of a receding car. He passed through the dining room and climbed the back stairway, wandered the deep and inviolate landscape of the house--solemn with the thought of faulty lessons, and of how often we are shaped in this way.Although the O. Henry winners provide a generally representative sample of the best of recent American short fiction, this collection makes no acknowledgment of the tremendous boom in erotica in the last three years, or the persistence of literary experimentation by a few dark and wayward souls. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Of the twenty stories, Michael Byers's "The Beautiful Days" was my top pick. From the literary journal Ploughshares, it's the story of Aldo, a young man we've seen before, who tries to find but ends up losing himself.
Stories such as these are entertainment far superior to most of what entertains us today. If only good literature were also more popular, and less reliant on the good will of universities and academic institutions. The popular mags publish so little fiction anymore, and the literary journals have budgets that don't permit much promotion. "Best Of" publications such as the O'Henry Awards are not only good collections, but probably the top promotional vehicles for good writing today.
My other favorite was Judy Budnitz's "Flush." It's wonderful in that the ending is O'Henryish--a fitting award-winner indeed.
There's not a bad story in the bunch, really. This is a great buy--I plan to give many copies as gifts.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The O. Henry Awards is for short stories. The stories are quite varied and selective. Also, this book is quite detailed with useful information for us inspiring writers like short... Read morePublished on May 17, 2007 by Sylviastel
I almost didn't buy this book in the series because when I read the 1998 version I felt pretty much unmoved by what I read there. Read morePublished on November 28, 2000