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PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  235 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
A collection of the twenty best contemporary short stories selected by series editor Laura Furman from hundreds of literary magazines, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009 features unforgettable tales in settings as diverse as post-war Vietnam, a luxurious seaside development in Cape Town, an Egyptian desert village, and a permanently darkened New York City. Also included a ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Anchor
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Adele
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Many of this year's crop of stories are incredibly well-done and worthy of their place in this book. I wasn't in love with the prize-prize story (one that two of the three editors, AS Byatt and Tim O'Brien chose as their favorite) Graham Joyce's An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen. I mean, of course O'Brien picked it because it's about a British soldier who's suffered in the war in Iraq, and is possibly crazy and delusional (or no, wait! maybe he's really the only sane person left!) The story felt ...more
Daniel Clausen
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is no better way to learn about the craft of short story writing than to read some great ones. Great efforts all around. The standouts were "Nursery" "The Bell Ringer" "Icebergs" "Darkness" and "Wildwood."
David
Jun 24, 2009 added it
i'm not crazy about this years edition. it seems like in the selection process of this year's award winners preference was given to stories that deal with timely political issues. not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but political story after political story kills the variety that i look for in story collections and gets a little dull. reading this begins to feel like being beaten in the head by some leftist moral authority. maybe next year keith olbermann and rachel maddow can edit the vol ...more
Starry
Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it
I love short story collections that draw from many authors: they showcase innovative ways to shake up the story form, and each story is deliciously different from the one before it. This collection included some memorable pieces but also had several that didn't seem worthy of a writing prize. I especially liked Paul Theroux's "Twenty-two Stories", Graham Joyce's "An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen", and Junot Díaz's "Wildwood".
Maureen
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it
The Junot Diaz story was excellent, as expected. The rest were a mixed bag, but all were well-constructed with unique point of view.
Melissa
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I enjoy reading short stories to indulge in more of the work by authors I like as well as to discover my next favorite writer. That being said, this year’s collection left me a little lukewarm. I thought about abandoning it, but didn’t think that seemed fair. (Kind of like when you’re in school and you have to do a group project, and there are a few kids who pull their weight and have great stuff to offer and others … well, not so much. The whole group shouldn’t be judged on a few, and that’s ho ...more
Karima
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
The award was first presented in 1918 and funded by the Society of Arts and Sciences.[1][2] As of 2012, the series editor chooses twenty short stories, each one an O. Henry Prize story. All stories originally written in the English language and published in an American or Canadian periodical are eligible for consideration. Three jurors are appointed annually. The jurors receive the twenty prize stories in manuscript form, with no identification of author or publication. Each juror, acting indepe ...more
Tiny Pants
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I keep not reviewing books in a timely manner, so I'm not 100% sure on the exact date I finished this one. But after a decent streak of really enjoying annual short story anthologies once again, this O.Henry was kind of a dud. A lot that was familiar from other places, and nothing that I was really excited to re-read (though I did, being a habitual completer of tasks... er, non-dissertative tasks, that is).

Probably "Isabel's Daughter" (Karen Brown) was my favorite, because I always like that sor
...more
Laura
May 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Not a bad edition of the annual collection, but this is not one of the O. Henry Prize's best efforts. Several of the stories are very fine -- the standouts are "An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen" by Graham Joyce; "Icebergs" by Alistair Morgan; "Tell Him about Brother John" by Manual Munoz; and "Twenty-Two Stories" by Paul Theroux. But many of them left me either cold, shrugging my shoulders, or skipping them after reading the first third or so. Really, none of the stories submitted to the jury wa ...more
Lacey N.
May 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Pen/O.Henry Prize Stories are twenty short stories from literary magazines as well established as The New Yorker to the lesser-known Grain and Five Points. It's always risky to pick up a collection of short stories by various authors because, unlike collections by a single author, the quality across the collection isn't guaranteed. Different writers, different styles, different ways of telling a story can mean a wildly varied hodgepodge similar to those Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Jellybeans: ...more
Thiszine
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Pen/O.Henry Prize Stories are twenty short stories from literary magazines as well established as The New Yorker to the lesser-known Grain and Five Points. It's always risky to pick up a collection of short stories by various authors because, unlike collections by a single author, the quality across the collection isn't guaranteed. Different writers, different styles, different ways of telling a story can mean a wildly varied hodgepodge similar to those Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Jellybeans: ...more
Harley
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Oh goody! Another annual series. Yesterday I went to Henderson's Books and bought two more volumes, 2006 and 1997.

It's interesting that these selections don't seem to overlap with the Best American Short Stories selections. So far in checking the table of contents of the three volumes I have, I've only run across one.

The most interesting story here is the Paul Theroux "Twenty-two Stories" because that's what it is. It's like a collection of microfiction, all the stories suggesting much more. It
...more
Katie
Apr 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Furman has chosen stories that take place in such exotic locales as Africa, Asia, Europe, Scandinavia, and various borderlands. But an exotic setting is no excuse for the fact that in some of these stories nothing really happens. Thank goodness for those with physical action, such as the selections from Ha Jin, Andrew Sean Greer, and Caitlin Horrocks (who just happens to be a friend...hooray, Caitlin!).

As for the jury selections; while I appreciated the haunting, Shakespearean pacing of Graham
...more
Wesley
Jan 31, 2010 added it
This book is a compendium of short stories from various author whose genres range from comedy to drama.
I really enjoyed this book because of the fact that it allowed for wiggle room for the reader. By this I mean that if I did not like a certain story in the book, I could just find another one that suited my interests. Furthermore, I found most of the stories really easy to get into because of the fact that they were short enough to keep your attention and the plots were complex in their brevit
...more
Matt
Aug 12, 2009 rated it liked it
For me, this was a pretty blah installment in a series I usually really enjoy. This one seemed to take out most of what I usually like, stories that are outside the mainstream because they are in some way formally inventive, and instead put in stories that are unusual because they aren't set in the US.

I recognize, as far as that goes, that writing things set in other countries, is commercially risky, and of course I think that's important work. But otherwise, many of the stories were disappointi
...more
Robert
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
Reading over lunch - hmm, a little worried about the low rating. Especially since I really liked the first story - several other people who gave it a low reading liked that story too.

Yeah, it was really not a good installment. Quite bored by most of the stories, a few standout exceptions.. 'An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen' was quite good. I didn't finish the collection after 3 duds in a row.
Rabbitoh
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
This collection contains stories of twin'd creative and philosophical force: "An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen," "Uncle Musto Takes a Mistress" and "Twenty-two Stories." Of course there are duds: "A Beneficiary," and "Tell Him About Brother John."

The most surprising -- or, the story I had to read twice for feeling lost -- is "This Is Not Your City." Whether a feeling of reader alienation is intentional, I don't know.
Candace
Apr 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Especially enjoyed the stories by Lunstrum ("The Nursery") and Morgan ("Icebergs"), which share the themes of isolation, geographical and emotional. I couldn't finish a few of the stories that got rave reviews from others, such as Theroux's "Twenty-two stories." That could mean that this collection appeals to a range of readers, those who identify with character, plot, or setting, etc., or that the selection is spotty this time.
Rory
Sep 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Some of these I really liked, some I despised, and many I hope to learn from. My favorites, in order of favoritism:
An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen, by Graham Joyce
Wildwood, by Junot Diaz
Purple Bamboo Park, by E.V. Slate
Coral Rose
Jul 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
I mean read much more loosely when referring to a book of varied short stories like this one. I read most of them, skimmed all of them, and only skipped ones having to do with war. Which I don't read about if I can help it right now.
Laura
May 23, 2009 added it
Shelves: short-stories
I loved "The Bell Ringer" by John Burnside - for the language, and for the bells.

Others I particularly enjoyed:

The camera and the cobra by Roger Nash
Darkness by Andrew Sean Greer
An ordinary soldier of the queen by Graham Joyce
Twenty-two stories by Paul Theroux
Leigh Ann
Jun 21, 2013 is currently reading it
Although I'm not finished with this book, I love the short stories. Each and every story has been thought-provoking. My favorite so far? "Twenty Two Stories"....wow! I'm definitely going to have to search out other 'years' of the series.
Lisa
Oct 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
I think there was mistake on the cover. These are actually the most boring stories of the year.

Exceptions: "An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen," Graham Joyce, "Darkness" Andrew Sean Greer, "Wildwood," Junot Diaz.
Beth Pratt
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
While the stories in this are admittedly "literary" I found this a very enjoyable collection. I definitely want to buy next year's edition when it comes out.
Michael Matson
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A good collection for short story fans.
Tabatha
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I will definitely continue reading these collections.
Amber
Jan 09, 2013 added it
I like this series. I haven't got a feeling yet for what makes a particularly well-edited volume.
Heather Clitheroe
Feb 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
A great collection of stories. Really enjoyed them!
Paula
Feb 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I give it 2 stars, because there are a couple of amazing stories, but overall not the best year for short stories.
David Fleming
Jul 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
Sorry, I just didn't like it. Stories weren't engaging. The prose was too dense. A lot of writing for writing's sake.
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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
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