Prize Stories 1987: The O'Henry Awards

Prize Stories 1987: The O'Henry Awards

by William Abrahams

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The first prize in this 67th O. Henry Memorial Award omnibus is shared by two spare, unsentimental, authoritative first-person narratives that breathe life, respectively, into a Chippewa legend (Louise Erdrich's ``Fleur'') and a young boy's painful coming of age in a children's hospital ward (Joyce Johnson's ``The Children's Wing''). Polished pieces by veteran short-story writers Alice Adams, Donald Barthelme, Mary Robison and Joyce Carol Oates are overshadowed by the sheer energy and intensity of Robert Boswell's ``The Darkness of Love,'' which describes a man's self-hating, imprisoning affair with his wife's sister, and Jim Pitzen's ``The Village,'' a graphic, tense and ultimately wrenching tale of a loving friendship between two American soldiers in Vietnam. Some stellar selections focus on aging, including ``Big Dog'' by Norman Lavers, which keenly observes a long-standing symbiotic marriage, Helen Norris's ``The Singing Well'' and ``What Feels Like the World,'' by Richard Bausch, both of which beautifully depict grandfather-granddaughter relationships. Abrahams has edited the O. Henry anthologies since 1967. (April 17)
Library Journal - Library Journal
These 20 stories are largely from mainstream magazines, generally conventional in technique and subject matter, and rich in both major and minor characters: the man whose wife leads him in and out of rooms ``like a sad, obedient dog,'' the boy whose mother is Polish and father Mexican (``it wasn't always an easy alliance, especially inside Pepper''), the girl Emilu who is named ``for two dead aunts, their names rammed together head-on like trains.'' There is outstanding work by Jim Pitzen, Richard Bausch, Norman Lavers, Robert Taylor, Jr., Helen Norris, Lewis Horne, and Joyce Carol Oates, though none has the impact of Robert Boswell's ``The Darkness of Love,'' an extended story about a burned-out cop's growing fascination with his wife's sister. For larger collections. David Kirby, English Dept., Florida State Univ., Tallahassee

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
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5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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