Thursday, September 13, 2018

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018
Edited by Laura Furman (Anchor)

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018 contains twenty prize-winning stories chosen from thousands published in literary magazines over the previous year. The winning stories come from a mix of established writers and emerging voices, and are uniformly breathtaking. They are accompanied by essays from the eminent jurors on their favorites, observations from the winning writers on what inspired their stories, and an extensive resource list of magazines that publish short fiction. (from the publisher's page, which also has the book's Introduction, providing synopses for the twenty stories)

I'm not a big reader of short stories, not going out of my way to read many of them. I had heard some buzz about "The Tomb of Wrestling" by Jo Ann Beard, so I checked this book out of the library to read it for myself. I'm glad I did. I may not have loved it as much as some commenters, but it's far and away the strongest story of the ones I've read in this collection so far. It begins, “She struck her attacker in the head with a shovel, a small one that she normally kept in the trunk of her car for moving things off the highway.” The reader finds out there is so much packed into that swing, allowing us to see the lives of Joan and her attacker as they meet in a tense and violent encounter.

I've jumped around to different stories and have enjoyed most of them. Two others I liked, "Stop 'n' Go" by Michael Parker and "How We Eat" by Mark Jude Poirier, are available at the LitHub link below. The latter story takes a strong will in order to handle this dysfunctional family. Also in the book are the jurors' top choices and why they loved them, as well as brief notes from the authors about their stories. Definitely worth checking out. And makes me realize I probably need to visit some of the previous years' collections.

Literary Hub has the list of stories and links to four of them

René Magritte's 1960 painting "The Tomb of the Wrestlers" and a little history behind the inspiration/challenge behind it.

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