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Prize Stories 1997: The O. Henry Awards
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Prize Stories 1997: The O. Henry Awards

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  44 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Established in 1918 as a memorial to O. Henry, this annual literary tradition has presented a remarkable offering of stories over its 76-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 know writers such as Alison Baker and Cornelia Nixon. Many talen ...more
Paperback, 500 pages
Published September 15th 1997 by Anchor
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George Saunders cannot save it
Short stories always seem like recreational reading. With novels, it always takes longer to figure out what the author is trying to say, or to either become engrossed in the book, or to realize that it doesn't really speak to you. But with the short story, for better or for worse, it's over in not so many pages. Short stories seem designed for lazy people. If you're reading something that you just don't enjoy, you can be finished with it and on to the next one in fairly short order. But when you ...more
Some good and some bad. Admirable for the most part, even if there are some questionable choices here.

"City Life," Mary Gordon. A woman grew up among slovenly alcoholic parents. She distances her adult life from them, becoming, apparently, a typical upperclass wife with a rather pronounced zest for order. Then she encounters her slovenly, impaired downstairs neighbor, who brings back all her old memories, and she starts to sympathize with him. Despite the award, I thought this story a bit simpli
This was given to me a year or so ago solely because they (the person who gave it to me) knew that I am a fan of David Foster Wallace, who happened to be one of the writers on the Prize Jury, along with Thom Jones and Louise Erdrich. They assumed that I would want to read 20 stories that DFW had also read, and judged. They were correct.

It was interesting to read these if only for the how dated some of them seem now. I'd run across a subject or phrase or observation and think, "oh wait, that make
Sort of the nadir of my O. Henry reading experience. Most of these stories simply fell flat for me. A few, like Mary Gordon's winning "City Life," and Matthew Klam's melancholy "The Royal Pains," have endearing characters I liked and felt sympathy for. But most of these pieces contain long, rambling stretches of text where nothing happens, bad dialogue, and a tone that declares openly the authors had no respect for their audience. A pretty tough read overall.
Eli Mandel
I read this book years ago so I'm not going to talk about all the stories in this book but two stories have remained with me since then.
The five stars are for those two stories.
One was City Life; I don't know what it's like to grow up in a pigsty with an alcoholic father and a dysfunctional mother but I think I do because of this short story, in fact I even imagine that I know what it feels like. I don't drive through a rural town and see the house a mile after the last house at the edge of town
all the stories are good, with a few that are exceptional like "the talk talked between worms"
Seriously some of the greatest stories I've ever read.
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