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The O. Henry Prize Stories 2006

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The 20 short stories in this collection were chosen by series editor Furman in consultation with jurors Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose, and Colm Toibin. The stories range in style from the gritty noir of David Means' "Sault Ste. Marie" to the mesmerizing mythmaking of Louise Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves," while the settings include a village perched on top of an enormo The 20 short stories in this collection were chosen by series editor Furman in consultation with jurors Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose, and Colm Toibin. The stories range in style from the gritty noir of David Means' "Sault Ste. Marie" to the mesmerizing mythmaking of Louise Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves," while the settings include a village perched on top of an enormous whale (David Lawrence Morse's "Conceived") as well as a swank suite at the Plaza Hotel (Xu Xi's "Famine"). The three most powerful stories seem to have in common the ability to immerse readers in a character's sudden, searing moment of self-knowledge and the way that insight impacts the course of a life. In Edward P. Jones' elegiac, masterful "Old Boys, Old Girls," a hard-bitten con comes to see that redemption is within his reach. Deborah Eisenberg delicately deconstructs a young girl's attraction to an abusive man in the haunting "Windows." And, finally, the storied Alice Munro, in "Passion," conveys the complex inner world of a teenager who discovers she values risk over security.


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The 20 short stories in this collection were chosen by series editor Furman in consultation with jurors Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose, and Colm Toibin. The stories range in style from the gritty noir of David Means' "Sault Ste. Marie" to the mesmerizing mythmaking of Louise Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves," while the settings include a village perched on top of an enormo The 20 short stories in this collection were chosen by series editor Furman in consultation with jurors Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose, and Colm Toibin. The stories range in style from the gritty noir of David Means' "Sault Ste. Marie" to the mesmerizing mythmaking of Louise Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves," while the settings include a village perched on top of an enormous whale (David Lawrence Morse's "Conceived") as well as a swank suite at the Plaza Hotel (Xu Xi's "Famine"). The three most powerful stories seem to have in common the ability to immerse readers in a character's sudden, searing moment of self-knowledge and the way that insight impacts the course of a life. In Edward P. Jones' elegiac, masterful "Old Boys, Old Girls," a hard-bitten con comes to see that redemption is within his reach. Deborah Eisenberg delicately deconstructs a young girl's attraction to an abusive man in the haunting "Windows." And, finally, the storied Alice Munro, in "Passion," conveys the complex inner world of a teenager who discovers she values risk over security.

30 review for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2006

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    The Good, The Bad, The Meh Yes Please: You Go When You Can No Longer Stay--Jackie Kay; The Pelvis Series--Neela Vaswani; The Dressmaker's Child--William Trevor; Unction--Karen Brown; Passion--Alice Munro; Wolves--Susan Fromberg Schaeffer (if I ignore the author statement, which I totally disagree with); Famine--Xu Xi No Thank You: Old Boys, Old Girls; The Broad Estates of Death; Sault Ste. Marie; '80s Lilies; The Center of the World; The Plague of Doves; Letters in the Snow...; Window Maybe If I'm The Good, The Bad, The Meh Yes Please: You Go When You Can No Longer Stay--Jackie Kay; The Pelvis Series--Neela Vaswani; The Dressmaker's Child--William Trevor; Unction--Karen Brown; Passion--Alice Munro; Wolves--Susan Fromberg Schaeffer (if I ignore the author statement, which I totally disagree with); Famine--Xu Xi No Thank You: Old Boys, Old Girls; The Broad Estates of Death; Sault Ste. Marie; '80s Lilies; The Center of the World; The Plague of Doves; Letters in the Snow...; Window Maybe If I'm In The Mood: Mule Killers; Conceived (Darn you ending--you could have made the 'yes pleases'); Disquisition on Tears; Girls I Know; Puffed Rice and Meatballs (also almost made it to the top) Why are there so many spousal abuse stories, and why does everything seem to end before its time?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Wise

    Twenty O. Henry Award recipients, of which I found half to be of exceptional five-star quality: “Old Boys, Old Girls” by Edward P. Jones; “Mule Killers” by Lydia Peelle; “The Broad Estates of Death” by Paula Fox; “The Pelvis Series” by Neela Vaswani; “Uncion” by Karen Brown; “Passion” by Alice Munro; “The Center of the World” by George Makana Clark; “Wolves” by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer; “Letters in the Snow – for kind strangers and unborn children – for the ones lost and most beloved” by Melani Twenty O. Henry Award recipients, of which I found half to be of exceptional five-star quality: “Old Boys, Old Girls” by Edward P. Jones; “Mule Killers” by Lydia Peelle; “The Broad Estates of Death” by Paula Fox; “The Pelvis Series” by Neela Vaswani; “Uncion” by Karen Brown; “Passion” by Alice Munro; “The Center of the World” by George Makana Clark; “Wolves” by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer; “Letters in the Snow – for kind strangers and unborn children – for the ones lost and most beloved” by Melanie Rae Thon; and “Window” by Deborah Eisenberg.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ci

    Good short stories are made for intense reading. It requires the reader to be fully alive to its highly condensed contents. In this particularly collection, the central themes (so far -- at page 97) seems to be (1) the unexpected events in life that changes human life completely, (2) the 'otherness' of how people experience life. (1) Edward P. Jones -- Old Boys, old girls. How do inmates experience a long prison life? Certainly not the way we outsiders would. Brutality and tenderness are transfor Good short stories are made for intense reading. It requires the reader to be fully alive to its highly condensed contents. In this particularly collection, the central themes (so far -- at page 97) seems to be (1) the unexpected events in life that changes human life completely, (2) the 'otherness' of how people experience life. (1) Edward P. Jones -- Old Boys, old girls. How do inmates experience a long prison life? Certainly not the way we outsiders would. Brutality and tenderness are transformed in that world with little resemblance to the "normal world". (2) Lydia Peelle -- Mule Killers. How did life suddenly turn when we are least able to comprehend our emotions? (3) Neela Vaswani -- The Pelvis Series. How does an ape experience life with a human? (4) William Trevor -- The dressmaker's child. How does the sense of guilt and redemption playing with our life's random events? (5) Alice Munro -- Passion. How does one experience the epiphanic moment in life when everything to be expected is turned in one moment? This is an excellent introduction to the O. Henry Prize collection. I will look out for future year's publication.

  4. 4 out of 5

    The Awdude

    This is the third O. Henry Prize collection I've read, and each one of them has been just as strong. The editor is a former professor of mine; though terrible at teaching, in my opinion, she is a brilliant reader nonetheless. You won't find much experimentation here, just good storytelling, and it also includes author comments and judge's comments, which I thought was a nice bonus. The 2006 edition includes stories by Louise Erdrich, William Trevor, Alice Munroe, Edward P. Jones, and Paula Fox, This is the third O. Henry Prize collection I've read, and each one of them has been just as strong. The editor is a former professor of mine; though terrible at teaching, in my opinion, she is a brilliant reader nonetheless. You won't find much experimentation here, just good storytelling, and it also includes author comments and judge's comments, which I thought was a nice bonus. The 2006 edition includes stories by Louise Erdrich, William Trevor, Alice Munroe, Edward P. Jones, and Paula Fox, among other outstanding writers of contemporary fiction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kimbo

    I don't remember this particular volume but I love this short stories anthology series. It's the only one I trust. Tried a few Sci-Fi/Fantasy and "Best" series with the same concept and I hated them; tacky storylines, crappy wanna-be-modern writing. I like the writing style of most of the stories that are selected for the O'Henry Awards. Lots of haunting and memorable stories, like Alexi Zentner's short story about the logger family, half of which were frozen in the river that helps make their l I don't remember this particular volume but I love this short stories anthology series. It's the only one I trust. Tried a few Sci-Fi/Fantasy and "Best" series with the same concept and I hated them; tacky storylines, crappy wanna-be-modern writing. I like the writing style of most of the stories that are selected for the O'Henry Awards. Lots of haunting and memorable stories, like Alexi Zentner's short story about the logger family, half of which were frozen in the river that helps make their livelihood...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anne B

    The best of this volume is "A Disquisition on Tears", which haunts me still. The quiet horror of that story doesn't hit until the very end. Unforgettable. A great feature of these collections is the "Writing/ The Authors On Their Work" section at the end. Here's where I turned to find out what inspired Stephanie Reents to write "Disquisition". Harrowing as the story is, its origins come from an even darker place. A must read, if you haven't. Other standouts: "'80's Lilies", "Wolves".

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Beaudoin

    I like the O. Henry Prize Stories collections because they are generally compilations of very good short stories from a variety of authors. The stories in the 2006 edition do not seem to be as a consistent high quality as the earlier collections have but I still found many of them thought provoking and enjoyable. My favorite was Louise Erdrich's A Plague of Doves, which is vignette on the intoxication of passionate love.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    I chose this book because a woman from the U. of A. has a story in it. Stephanie Reents was on her way out of Tucson and into the Stegner Fellowship when I met her on my "looking it over" trip to Tucson in the spring of 2002. Now she has a short story in the O. Henry book. Pretty cool. "Disquisition on Tears" was originally published in Epoch, the Cornell mag, but beware, it has a headless women in it....very "Legend of Sleepy Hollow", oooooooohhhhhhhhh. Not really.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    There were several stories in this book I really liked. "Wolves" was very interesting and made me think. I liked that the relationship between husband and wife after all these years wasn't totally cliche estrangement. It was like their enduring love kind of drove them apart...I don't know, it was interesting. I didn't love all of the stories in this book, but I liked most of them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Aside from a handful of great stories ("The Dressmaker's Child"-William Trevor; "Conceived"-David Lawrence Morse; "Plague of Doves"-Louise Erdrich; "Letters in the Snow"-Melanie Rae Thon; and "Window"-Deborah Eisenberg), this collection was drab and predictable. Perhaps 2006 was a bad year for stories, because I recall that BASS 2006 was bland as well.

  11. 4 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    Spectacular. My favorite so far of the 21st century O. Henry collections. This one contains an excellent story by Melanie Rae Thon, which has the distinction of being the last piece of fiction I read that actually made me cry. Cry like a little girl. Doubt I will be that moved again anytime soon.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Favorite stories: Mule Killers by Lydia Peelle Disquisition on Tears by Stephanie Reents Passion by Alice Munro Letters in the Snow-for kind strangers and unborn children-for the ones lost and most beloved by Melanie Rae Thon

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tabatha

    My favorite story was 'Conceived.' So unique.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    Each story is better than the next.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Consistently the best source for a variety of creative short fiction. The best story in this book is "Disquisition on Tears" by Stephanie Reents.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    I love these O. Henry prize winners books. They have always been my favorite. If you love short stories, or have limited time to get engrossed in a book, these are for you!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    A favorite, always.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Did not read the whole book. Just the story Conceived by David Morse because he is Jack's brother. His story was great. Maybe will go back and read the rest some other time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    Incredibly layered and particularly human stories

  20. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I've only had to skip one so far. I ended up skipping 2 more.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Every story is a gem.

  22. 5 out of 5

    beyondthepale70

    i am a lover of short stories and particularily love the story "mule killers"-lydia peele in this book. i can't wait until we see more from this southern writer.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Jane

    Nothing was fantastic here. I didn't make it quite all the way through a lot of them.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tessa McGovern

  25. 4 out of 5

    terri klein

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ariel Jutkowitz

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zuma

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