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The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012: Including stories by John Berger, Wendell Berry, Anthony Doerr, Lauren Groff, Yi
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The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012: Including stories by John Berger, Wendell Berry, Anthony Doerr, Lauren Groff, Yi

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  208 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012 gathers twenty of the best short stories of the year, selected from thousands published in literary magazines. These remarkable stories explore the boundaries of the imagination in settings as various as an army training camp in China, the salt mines of Detroit, a divided Balkan town, and the eye of a hurricane. Also included are essays ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Anchor
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Bonnie Brody
I am not happy to say that I was not at all impressed with this year's selection of the Pen/O'Henry Stories for 2012. There are twenty stories selected for this collection and, of those, I enjoyed five of them. That's 25% - not very good odds overall. The stories that spoke to me were Leak by Sam Ruddick, The First Wife by Christine Sneed, A Birth in the Woods by Kevin Wilson, Rothko Eggs by Keith Ridgeway and The Deep by Anthony Doerr. The rest just didn't grab me tightly and I have trouble eve ...more
С огромно облекчение завърших сборника. Най-вече ме задържа любопитството и откривателския интерес да разбера за себе си защо точно тези истории са избрани сред 20те най-добри от селекцията. По принцип не съм фен на късата форма, не ми достига като набиране на емоция и дълбочина, както и време, което ми е нужно да прекарам с историята и героите, за да ги обикна, затова мнението ми не може да бъде меродавно, но селекцията ми се стори най-общо скучна и невълнуваща.
Разбира се се зарадвах на включв
Paul Cockeram
All the stories in this collection were well worth reading. Below are my brief notes on the ones that stood out and what I took from them.

Several stories concerned relationships and the flings that threaten them. Alice Muttison's "Leak" portrays the jealousy and dissatisfaction of infidelity. Christine Sneed's 13-part "The First Wife" exposes celebrity culture from an insider's perspective, watching the inevitable disintegration of a movie star's marriage. I loved how it showed the pain and loss
The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012 do what any good anthology does: present a selection of some of the best stories of the year that cover all genres and styles. The selections were mostly impressive, but a few stood out as exceptional such as Slouka's The Hare's Mask, Li's Kindness, Sneed's The First Wife, and Ruddick's Leak. Of all the stories, Wilson's A Birth in the Woods left the strongest impression on me and caused me to marvel at the craft of writing short stories. Also, there were a fe ...more
It took me months to get through this collection of short stories, and though there was great variety of voice, style and subject matter, I was disappointed that so few of these stories really resonated with me. However, I discovered Anthony Doerr, whom I had not read before, and now I'm looking forward to reading more of his work. His story "The Deep" was just amazing! Vivid, lyrical, meaningful. Five stars for his contribution to the collection.

Other stories that I enjoyed:
"The Hare's Mask" by
I'm giving this two stars not because all the stories are bad, but because the collection as a whole is disappointing. I've read through a couple PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories books in the past and been impressed with its creative selection of stories. Sure there would be some stories I didn't care for as much, but I appreciated them for making the rest stand out all the more. Here, most of the stories have a similar feel and are mostly unmemorable. The stories I enjoyed the most were those that con ...more
This series has consistently excellent stories, but this was still one of my favorite years. There were a few that stood out and that I'd like to reread, esp. "Corrie" by Alice Munro and "Things Said Or Done" by Ann Packer, and "The Deep" by Anthony Doerr.

I have to say that the pacing for many of the stories felt similar, which might have been why the collection seemed so cohesive. If you're looking for more variety, the Best American series is generally curated a little more eclectically. (In g
"The Deep" by Anthony Doerr stands out far above the rest.

Other picks include "A Brush", John Berger (no one else seems to like this haha). "The Hare's Mask", Mark Slouka, and "Rothko Eggs", Keith Ridgway - but none as memorable.
Caroline Bock

Read more short stories - The Pen/O.Henry Prize Stories 2012 -- and the one that stays with me, haunts me, is "Kindness" by Yiyun Liu, almost novella length about a young girl, a soldier, then teacher in China, someone who has chosen not to love another or live, really. The writer, from Beijing and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, with a slew of other awards, says that "I hope that by speaking to one person in her mind, my narrator, in the end speaks to many." Actually, one of the best p
Marina Sofia
The stories are not bad, but they do feel a bit samey. I suppose that partly depends on the personal preference of the selecting committee/editor, but I do wonder if there is a certain style of short story writing which is currently fashionable and appeals to magazines (all of them had been previously published in prestigious literary magazines).
I have to admit, I didn't 'get' many of the stories either. It felt like there was no point to them, no nice structure or start and finish. Or else the
I am using this as my primary textbook for my upcoming Craft of Fiction class, so I won't write much here in case my students check into my Goodreads (hey, students!). But, as always, there are some wonders in this collection, and some stories that left me a little cold. Two of my favorites are Alice Munro's story, because, well, she's Alice Munro and amazing, and covers so many years with such ease. And the other favorite was Kindness by Yiyun Li is more like a Novella, and is simply stunning. ...more
Carrie Schindele Cupples
I skipped around, reading these out of order, thinking that I'd just skim through the stories that didn't grab me right away. But then they each grabbed me and I realized that the PEN/O. Henry stories are rich collections with diverse stories and writers. Jim Shepard's 'Boys Town', 'The Hare's Mask' by Mark Slouka, 'Kindness' by Yiyun Li and Millhauser's 'Phantoms' each haunt me still in their own ways. I can't wait to go back and read the past O. Henry collections at my library. Awesome short s ...more
This collection contains a few that I will definitely revisit. "The First Wife" by Christine Sneed, "The Vandercook" by Alice Mattison, "Corrie" by Alice Munro & "Things Said or Done" by Ann Packer were standouts. The favorite (for it's seemingly ordinary, simple & uneventful narrative) is "Kindness" by Yiyun Li. Of the twenty short stories included, all had merit & there were some very original (" Boys Town", "Phantoms" & "A Birth in the Woods") ones that have peaked my interest ...more
Ben Brackett
About 16/20 stories here are well written but so devoid of a voice or emotion they could have been by the same person despite the contributor being of very different races, religions and sexes.The editors seemed to greatly admire form over style, and despise imagination. Thankfully, a couple late entries that felt completely out of place from the rest of the works came the rescue from a one star review in the end, but I am no longer taking the PEN/O. Henry Prize as a positive endorsement of lite ...more
Laura Ruetz
I really enjoyed the stories in this anthology. Every story was thought provoking and layered and some I even went back to read twice, just to get the nuances that I missed the first time. Although this was a book that I got from the library, it is one that I would buy to keep, the stories are fabulous. If you are a fan of fiction, words, and the magic of storytelling, this is the book that you want to read. There is not a single story that I found disagreeable.
I usually don't read short stories, but this is a superb collection. Especially enjoyed "Kindness" by Yiyun Lee - it's a wonderful story. "A Birth in the Woods" by Kevin Wilson and "Things Said or Done" were also very good ("A Birth in the Woods" was especially chilling). There were a few stories I didn't quite connect with, but overall I highly recommend this collection. Wouldn't read the entire thing over again, but there are stories I'd love to revisit.
Alex Toney
On the whole, I found this year's collection to be full of staggeringly good writing, made all the more compelling by a common theme the stories seem to share: nearly all focus on characters or settings from other cultures. As a result, the pieces hang together almost like a little book. Delightful, and masterfully written.
Pat Pujolas
Overall, some pretty safe choices, but "The Deep" by Anthony Doerr is worth the price of admission. One of the best short stories I've read in a long time. Maybe one of the best ever. Captures life, love, and death in 20 pages or less. Just shockingly incredibly super-duper brilliant.
Karen Carlson
I thought this picked up nicely after a rough start - detailed comments (with possible spoilers) on individual stories posted at A Just Recompense
Unlike entries in recent volumes of "The Best American Short Stories" series, most of the stories were interesting enough to read all the way through (!). I'll have to start getting this series every year, like I do for TBASS...
Kenny Chaffin
OMG I Loved "A Birth in the Woods"

Also just read "Kindless" WOW!

I'm upping my stars just based on those two. and the fact that there hasn't been a total stinker yet...still reading it about 3/4 done.

A really well-curated selection of stories! The four-star rating, though, is mostly for Yiyun Li's 'Kindness' - it made me cry on a public bus. It's just breathtakingly beautiful.
Currently read "The Vandercook" and "Kindness" - both have been great reads and moving. Looking forward to some more, even though am not a fan of short stories.
A good selection of modern short stories. I loved several of the stories, could have lived without a few of them, but overall good stuff.
I didn't read all the stories but I agree that The Deep is incredible! 5 stars for that story by itself.
Lots of great stories in this one! Kindness and The Deep were my favorites but I enjoyed almost all of them.
Worth picking up for Miroslav Penkov's "East of the West" and "Boys Town" by Jim Shepard.
As with almost any anthology, some stories left me in awe, others scratching my head.
Heather Clitheroe
A bit hit and miss, though there are some good stories in the collection.
Mike Monson
Just read "The Deep." Wow. The Gilb story is really good too.
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Short Story lovers: A Birth in the Woods 3 30 Apr 30, 2012 02:02PM  
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Laura J. Furman (born 1945) is an American author best known for her role as series editor for the O. Henry Awards prize story collection. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Mirabella, Ploughshares, Southwest Review.

She has written three collections of stories (The Glass House, Watch Time Fly, and Drinking with the Cook), two novels (The Shadow Line and Tuxedo Park), and a memoir (Ordinary P
More about Laura Furman...
O. Henry Prize Stories 2007 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011: The Best Stories of the Year O. Henry Prize Stories 2008 (Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories) PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009 The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013

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