Prize Stories 1989: The O. Henry Awards

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A nanny remains peripheral to the lives of her beloved wards; a free spirit is held captive by his mad son; an old woman purges her home with running water--``pure, baptismal''--after the death of her tyrannical husband; there are no winners in a savage showdown between two powerful prisoners; and a boy whose scruples and singular sense of honor compel him to inform on his friends evokes, many years after the event, pity and admiration from one of his victims. Mostly culled from small literary magazines, the 20 stories in this 69th volume in the annual O. Henry Awards series--published simultaneously in trade paper and cloth editions for the first time--authentically highlight aspects of contemporary experience: often protagonists mourn the loss of a child, fret over impending parenthood or have difficulty relating to family members/lovers. But the collection as a whole, while always technically adept, is, nevertheless, enervated by the emotional sterility of some characters and plots, the latter demonstrated, for example, in ``Wrong Stories,'' a story about the telling of stories. Winners include Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Adams, Rick Bass and Charles Dickinson. Abrahams is a senior editor at Dutton. (Apr.)
Library Journal
These 20 works were selected from stories offered in over 300 magazines/journals, with first prize going to Ernest J. Finney's ``Peacocks,'' second prize to Joyce Carol Oates's ``House Hunting,'' and third prize to Harriet Doerr's ``Edie: A Life.'' The other 17 stories are unranked. Except for Doerr's superior piece, the stories are mostly below average, even Oates's. Like some other so-called ``prize'' collections issued in the past several years, this one appears to have been chosen by a loosely formed ``national committee'' with limited taste and judgment. Commendably, for the first time mini-biographies of the authors are included, but so are intrusive comments by some authors on how, when, where, and why they wrote their stories. Overall assessment: Generally a shoddy collection and certainly not up to previous O. Henry Prize Stories. -- Glenn O. Carey, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385246347
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1989
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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