Prize Stories 1991: The O. Henry Awards

Prize Stories 1991: The O. Henry Awards

by William Abrahams

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the 71st annual Prize Stories , the 25th to be edited by Abrahams, John Updike takes a deserving first place with ``A Sandstone Farmhouse'': here a middle-aged man reflects on his sense of betrayal when, as a boy, he realized that his mother loved an isolated house and its surrounding 80 acres as much as she loved him. Gimlet stories that illuminate our times without smacking of trendiness are Dennis McFarland's ``Nothing to Ask For,'' in which a heterosexual recovering alcoholic braces for the death of his gay best friend from AIDS, and Charles Baxter's ``Saul and Patsy Are Pregnant,'' whose anxious hero, an Easterner transplanted to the Midwest, is obsessed with happiness and its apparent inaccessibility. Although some dross dulls the collection as a whole, there are many golden moments. Diane Levenberg's ``The Ilui'' traces a vulnerable woman whose youthful infatuation with Talmud scholars becomes a latter-day dependence on a drug-abusing, do-nothing with pretensions to secular intellectualism, and Sharon Sheehe Stark's ``Overland'' tracks a cross-county bus trip that briefly numbs the reality of grief for a recently widowed woman and her daughter. Sylvia A. Watanabe's ``Talking to the Dead'' features a Hawaiian witch doctor's helper who faints at the sight of corpses, while Helen Norris's ``Raisin Faces'' limns an old woman who prefers the company of her maid who steals from her to her grown children who infantilize her. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Good anthologies often lack variety, and diverse ones often lack quality. But this collection is both meritorious and diverse. The work ranges from plainly written stories brimming with resonant significance to full-blown extravaganzas. There is excellent writing by T. Alan Broughton, Millicent Dillon (whose The Dance of the Mothers is reviewed in this issue, p. 149), Diane Levenberg, Dennis McFarland, Ronald Sukenick, Marly Swick, and Sylvia A. Watanabe. But the best story is Charles Baxter's ``Saul and Patsy Are Pregnant,'' which begins with a man coming to in a car he has rolled and gently waking his wife, who has slept through it all. By combining the bizarre and the mundane, Baxter, who never fails to please, again shows what is truest about American life and writing. Recommended.-- David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Prize Stories Series
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

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