Prize Stories 1998: The O. Henry Awards


Established in 1918 as a memorial to O. Henry, this annual literary tradition has presented a remarkable offering of stories over its seventy-seven-year history. O. Henry first-prize winners have included Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, John Cheever, John Updike, and Cynthia Ozick, as well as some lesser-known writers such as Alison Baker and Cornelia Nixon. Many talented writers who were unknown when first chosen for an O. Henry Award later went on to become seminal voices of contemporary ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (43) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $1.99   
  • Used (37) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


Established in 1918 as a memorial to O. Henry, this annual literary tradition has presented a remarkable offering of stories over its seventy-seven-year history. O. Henry first-prize winners have included Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, John Cheever, John Updike, and Cynthia Ozick, as well as some lesser-known writers such as Alison Baker and Cornelia Nixon. Many talented writers who were unknown when first chosen for an O. Henry Award later went on to become seminal voices of contemporary American fiction. Representative of the very best in contemporary American fiction, these are varied, full-bodied fictional creations brimming with life—proof of the continuing strength and variety of the American short story.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 78th volume in the series the second edited by Dark, this year's O. Henry collection is full of powerful performances, from the furiously ironic Lorrie Moore tale that opens the volume the first-place story to the heart-shattering Annie Proulx story that closes it. In "People Like That Are the Only People Here" also in her current collection, Birds of America, Moore takes on an event nearly impossible to relate dispassionately but she does, of a mother who sees her baby endangered by cancer. In "Brokeback Mountain" Proulx tells, with restraint and wrenching clarity, of two dirt-poor Wyoming ranch hands and the hard bargains they make to love each other. Other familiar authors work the veins they have already claimed. Steven Millhauser's second-prize entry, "The Knife Thrower" the title of his latest collection, describes collusion between a performer and his voyeuristic audience in the best Poesque Millhauser style. Alice Munro's third-prize story, "The Children Stay" in her collection, The Love of a Good Woman, forthcoming in November, describes a woman on an emotional precipice, capturing the moment a young mother walks out on her children. In "Satan: Highjacker of a Planet," Louise Erdrich gives us a girl drawn into religious and sexual passion. There are also gems here by less celebrated writers, such as Akhil Sharma's "Cosmopolitan," about a lonely Indian immigrant trying to adapt to love American style, and Maxine Swann's "Flower Children," in which parents in perpetual flower-childhood raise offspring. Many of the stories work common American themes: unhinged Protestantism, displacement and reinvention of self, and the wilderness, both physical and emotional. Some stories ramble, and others fall back on violence for effect. But the refreshing voices of Reginald McKnight, Peter Weltner, George Saunders and Thom Jones redress the balance. Oct.
Library Journal
This year's editions of two well-known fiction anthologies have some similarities but more differences. Three stories appear in both volumes, among them the first-prize winner in the Prize Stories (PS) volume: Lorrie Moore's harrowing, unsentimentalized account of a sick child, "People Like That Are the Only People Here." Each also includes a different Western by E. Annie Proulx. The other selections seem to reflect the particular tastes of the editors. Keillor states up front in his introduction to Best American Short Stories (BASS) that his choices cover "your basic age-old themes" and that he likes stories that tell him "something true about somebody's life." Those he has selected, though ranging widely in voice, character, and setting, are mostly character-driven, realistic tales of interactions between families, friends, or lovers. In PS, Dark, while not ignoring the themes favored by Keillor, has made room for more experimental fiction, including Steven Millhauser's surreal "The Knife Thrower" and Rick Bass's allegorical "The Myths of Bears." It's generally a riskier collection than BASS, though both volumes contain enough variety to offer readers something to love as well as hate. Recommended for most collections.--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Idaho Lib., Moscow
Kirkus Reviews
This latest installment of the venerable O. Henry winners, edited by old-hand critic Dark (Prize Stories 1997, etc.), provides some pleasures amid few surprises. "You are what some would call a serious reader," Dark assures us at the start. "The very fact that you are interested in these twenty stories is proof enough." But it's not all work and no play, for many of the entries here manage to entertain as well as mean. The obsessive introspection that has nearly killed the short story as a popular art form is largely absent, and traditional narrative seems to be enjoying a comeback, if the pieces offered this time around serve as any guide.

Lorrie Moore takes First Prize with "People Like that Are the Only People Here," a mother's account of her baby's illness in which self- conscious irony ("The Tiny Tim Lounge is a little sitting area at the end of the Peed-Onk corridor") verges on black humor while staying just within the boundary of good taste. Second Prize-winner Steven Millhauser's "The Knife Thrower" describes in almost gothic prose the Svengali-like effect of a carnival actor upon an audience of small-town folk ("We had heard that among his followers there were many, young women especially, who longed to be wounded by the master and to bear his scar proudly"). Alice Munro's Third-Prize-winner, "The Children Stay," is more in the contemporary mode: an almost disembodied recollection of a woman's adultery and then abandonment of her family that becomes finally more ponderous than meditative. Several backwoods pieces, Rick Bass's "The Myth of Bears" (Yukon trappers) and Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" (Wyoming ranchers), manage to resuscitate old-fashioned realism with local color, but the best is Louise Erdrich's "Satan: Hijacker of a Planet," a taut, extraordinarily eerie description of a country girl seduced by a charismatic revival preacher.

Definitely worth picking through, even for readers who aren't all that serious.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385489584
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/15/1998
  • Series: Prize Stories Series
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction xv
People Like that are the Only People Here: First Prize (The New Yorker, January 27, 1997) 1
The Knife Thrower: Second Prize (Harper's Magazine, March 1997) 35
The Children Stay: Third Prize (The New Yorker, December 22 & 29, 1997) 51
Flower Children: (Ploughshares, Vol. 23, Nos. 2 & 3) 79
Two Brothers: (Dominion Review, Volume XV) 90
Winky: (The New Yorker, July 28, 1997) 114
Me and My Enemy: (The Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 73, No. 4) 129
Tarantula: (Zoetrope: All-Story, Vol. 1, No. 1) 144
Gare Du Nord: (Harper's Magazine, August 1997) 175
Eating Dirt: (New England Review, Vol. 18, No. 2) 187
Relief: (The Paris Review, No. 141) 201
Boot: (Story, Spring 1997) 213
Crimson: (Manoa, Vol. 9, No. 2) 235
Movietone: Detour: (Fourteen Hills, Vol. 3, No. 2) 255
Cosmopolitan: (The Atlantic Monthly, January 1997) 273
Ashes: (Epoch, Vol. 46, No. 2) 297
The Myths of Bears: (The Southern Review, Vol. 33, No. 1) 321
Satan: Hijacker of a Planet: (The Atlantic Monthly, August 1997) 357
The Chimpanzees of Wyoming Territory: (Alaska Quarterly Review, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 & 4) 368
Brokeback Mountain: (The New Yorker, October 13, 1997) 380
Contributors' Notes 407
Jurors 416
50 Honorable Mention Stories 417
1998 Magazine Award: The New Yorker 424
Magazines Consulted 425
Permissions 444
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)