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O. Henry Prize Stories 2008 (Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  221 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
A collection of short stories judged to be the best in America and Canada for 2007 presents a selection of short fiction, along with essays by the three judges and commentary from the twenty prize winners...Title: .The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008..Author: .Furman, Laura (EDT)/ Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (CON)/ Leavitt, David (CON)/ Means, David (CON)..Publisher: .Random ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Anchor
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Aug 21, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Each year, short story lovers eagerly anticipate two collections of stories: The Best American Short Stories collection published by Houghton Mifflin, and the O. Henry Prize Stories, edited by Laura Furman and published by Anchor. While the "Best American" series contains many worthy stories and authors (this year, the series editor is Salman Rushdie and the winners include Nicole Krauss, A.M. Homes, and Jonathan Lethem), the choices tend to be a bit more conventional than the O. Henry stories. ...more
Ethan Hval
Oct 28, 2016 Ethan Hval rated it liked it
Shelves: fall2016
A sadly average collection of stories. However, there are a few stories that really jumped out at me. The following is a list of the stories and how I felt about them generally:

CAUGHT MY INTEREST (worth reading):
A Composer and His Parakeets by Ha Jin
A Change in Fashion by Steven Millhauser
Transitional Object by Sheila Kohler
The Little Boy by Mary Gaitskill
A Little History of Modern Music by William H. Glass

JUST OK (a good representation of average lit fic - but not worth writing home about):
Feb 21, 2011 Tintin rated it liked it
Last year when I wanted to write short stories, I picked up this book to get a survey of what were supposedly the best stories by the best writers. These were the winners handpicked by the judges for the prestigious O. Henry Prize, after all.

Unfortunately I hadn't done my research and didn't realize that these stories are primarily of the literary genre. I was expecting a mixed bag of genres, not pure literary.

I have mixed feelings about this genre. Even those in the writing field have conflicte
Tiny Pants
Sep 30, 2009 Tiny Pants rated it it was ok
In recent years I've enjoyed the O. Henry more than Best American, but I'm not sure if that was the case this year -- sadly, only because Best American was unmemorable enough this year for me to be sure without looking up my review. Quelle disappointment!

There were a few stories in here I liked a lot -- the opener from Ha Jin was lovely, and there was a Mary Gaitskill piece near the end I liked quite a bit (though less so when I read the contributor's notes -- it's odd how sometimes those can ti
Doug Cannon
May 04, 2009 Doug Cannon rated it it was ok
The "O. Henry Prize Stories"? Is this the best they've got? I am sorely disappointed. If this O. Henry foundation is trying to tell me that these are the best stories written in 2008, then we've got very little going on.

I love O. Henry and his writing. His poorest stories are far and away better than any one of these, and I've read at least 30-40 of his stories.

Some of these stories are pretty good ( "What Do You Want to Know For?" by Alice Munro, and "Bad Neighbors" by Edward P. Jones, and the
Oct 09, 2008 Meredith rated it liked it
Shelves: moderngreats
A good collection of prize-worthy stories, but overall not nearly as strong as the "Best Short Stories of ___ (year)" series (I just saw the 2008 edition the other day on the Barnes and Noble shelf!! edited by Salman Rushdie!! so excited to tear into that one)
there were several stories in particular that i thought were, eh, not so compelling. even alice munro's story lacked her usual "i cannot look away from the page in front of me" mesmerizing quality. hmmmm.
My personal favorites:
"Other People
Nov 19, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it
I took a couple years off from the O Henry anthologies and flirted with other collections of new fiction, the Pushcart, the Dzanc Press books. But really, this is the best series I know of. I accept the criticisms that some of the writers here are ringers (Alice Munro, Bill Trevor, Mary Gaitskill-- what, was Joyce Carol Oates sick this year?), but when you look past the well-known names, there are twenty stories here, each one of which is a little odd, a little off, and somewhere outside the ...more
Apr 06, 2010 Rebecca added it
Shelves: perused
Another retreat read. While it was fun to skip around and read a bunch of short stories by authors I was unfamiliar with the collection left me a little cold. None of the stories I read were bad but none of them really grabbed me either. My favorite, perhaps the least realistic of the bunch, was by Lore Segal. I especially like the fact that while the story sounded like it was written by a young man it was in fact written by an older woman.
Aug 09, 2008 KatieB rated it really liked it
This is an excellent collection. I've thoroughly enjoyed just about all the stories I've read so far, especially:
Ha Jin's "A Composer and His Parakeets,"
Olaf Olafsson's "On the Lake,"
and Alexi Zentner's "Touch." Zentner's story is just phenomenal. I'm unfamiliar with his work, but I read Adichie's praise of the story included in the back of the book. I will definitely need to check out his other stories, especially if this story is a great representation.
Sep 01, 2009 Carolanne marked it as probably-not
Shelves: shorts
I took two books with me on my trip, this and "The heartbreaking work of Staggering Genius" (which I've already read). The first story of this book was super cheesy and we were getting a package ready for home and my bag was really heavy so I sent this home. Then found out that I would be spending a week alone on a island where there aren't any English books.... Big mistake. I will never ship another book home in my life! You never know when you will need it.
Nov 15, 2010 Jessica marked it as sampled-a-few
Rose Tremain -- kind of didn't wind up liking this story that much in the end, but maybe want to read more of her

Love Steven Millhauser's fashion story, must give to Karen

LOVE Shannon Cain story, must give to April, investigate this person

I know Alice Munro is like the Meryl Streep of short fiction or whatever, but I just.... I don't know. I mean, obviously she's good. I guess I bore easily.
Apr 02, 2013 Starry rated it really liked it
Great vacation reading. These stories come from around the world, which made the book a pleasure for its variety of voices and experiences and subjects. Kudos to whoever chooses the winners.

My favorites included the funny "A Change in Fashion" by Steven Millhauser, the darling "A Composer and His Parakeets" by Ha Jin, the unforgettable "Touch" by Alexi Zentner, the thought-provoking "Prison" by Yiyun Li.
Mar 24, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I enjoyed this, I think a bit better than the 2007 volume. There were a couple of stories that I had read previously (published in The New Yorker) but the rest were all new to me.

I think that's really all I have to say -- it's hard for me to review these anthologies, because there's not an overarching theme that I can really comment on - they're just the stories that the prize jury liked the best.
Jul 15, 2009 Brandi rated it liked it
i didn't read every single story, but i read several. my favorite is the opener, ha jin's "a composer and his parakeets." i also really enjoyed "on the lake" by olaf olafson. both exhibited very deft handling of the dark side of human connectivity. both had me immensely interested and made me feel like i was snooping on their respective protagonists' emotional, somehow balding, frankness. good stuff.
Aug 01, 2009 Courtney rated it did not like it
Started reading it... some of them were good, but then they all started getting dark, annoying, yucky... they should rename it the "O. Henry Depression Inducing Prize" if this is the kind of "work" that warrants praise. So weird...

Also, I think people give this more stars because they are trying to be literary... read O. Henry instead, that's my advice!
May 12, 2009 tomlinton rated it really liked it
Four of the stories
I want to reread
until I understand
what the author is doing
but most of these
are much more attractive
than the average short story
which I admit
I've had trouble staying interested in
I just acquired 2007
as a result
and o
fair warning
I've notified Amazon
but 2008's Table of Contents
was just that
a nonworking pdf table
Dec 30, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it
Can't say enough about the selection of stories for this book. It starts on a high note with "A Composer and His Parakeets" by Ha Jin, but is topped by "What Do You Want to Know For?" by Alice Munro. "On the Lake" by Olaf Olafson is special, but the best one in the book is "Touch" by Alexi Zentner. I'll remember it for a long time.
Dec 03, 2009 Caroline rated it liked it
I've only read a few of the stories in the book so far, but I have absolutely enjoyed them. Short stories can often give the feeling of "so what?" or "what on earth is the author trying to prove?" But when they are good, they can be fantastic. So far my two favorites are "A composer and His Parakeets" by Ha Jin and "The Necessity of Certain Behaviors" by Shannon Cain.
Victoria Patterson
Dec 11, 2008 Victoria Patterson rated it really liked it
I'm going to rate everything four stars from now on, unless I'm completely blown away, one way or the other. I don't like this rating system. It feels like the thumbs up/ thumbs down, easy response.

Ha Jin's "A Composer and His Parakeets" and Michael Faber's "Bye-bye, Natalia" were my favorites.
Sep 15, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it
Another wonderful collection of tales. The problem as well as the benefit with reading short story anthologies is the discovery of writers you may not have read before. Oh dear. Now I'm off to find books by Wendell Berry and Walker Percy and more Alice Munro....
Aug 05, 2009 Isabelle rated it it was ok
A very eclectic collection of short stories, which would be wonderful if all the stories were equal in quality. While some of the selections were masterful and exciting, others left me unable to suspend disbelief long enough to care about any of the characters and their fate...
Aug 13, 2008 Kathy rated it really liked it
Expecting this to be a mixed bag, but started with the story by Mary Gaitskill "The Little Boy" and found it stunning.
Amy Cook
Sep 05, 2008 Amy Cook rated it really liked it
I love these collections. I buy them almost every year. It is almost always a selection of unique stories most of which are extremely good.
Jan 24, 2009 Steve rated it liked it
Mixed bag. Some of the stores were good, others a bit average. I think it reflects the state of short story writing. I suspect many of our best writers are working in another medium.
Very well written (as one would hope). Most made me think, which I enjoyed- lovely imagery, but mostly downers. . .
Mar 10, 2009 Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Some favorites:

Village 113 - Anthony Doerr
On the Lake - Olaf Olafsson
Prison - Yiyun Li

I tried five or six times to read The Bullock Run, but I just couldn't finish it.
Sep 30, 2008 carolyn marked it as to-read
oh no! I have to return it to the library and I've only read a couple stories. I'll have to check it out again. whoops! I read the Alice Munro story while backpacking. it was great.
Adi Alsaid
Jan 21, 2013 Adi Alsaid rated it really liked it
Favorites were A Composer and His Parakeets, Taiping, The necessity of Certain Behaviors and Bye-bye Natalia.
Aug 24, 2009 Margaret rated it really liked it
A good mix of stories and story-telling, by some well known and some new authors. They tend toward the sad side, but don't most short stories?
Feb 03, 2009 Brooklyn rated it liked it
I found the prize-winning stories rather uneven...some were brilliant, some mediocre, but they made for an intriuging read as a whole.
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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...

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