Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The rest of the 2012 O Henry Award stories

kw: collections, continued review, short stories, story reviews

The last four stories in The Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories for 2012 are a motley mix, though three lean hard on imaginary landscapes.
  •  Rothko Eggs by Keith Ridgway – A girl apparently falling in love, though either the girl is weird, or everyone around her is. Rothko is an artist she is not sure she likes, but when she takes her boyfriend to a Rothko exhibit, he is moved to an extent that alarms her.
  • The Deep by Anthony Doerr – A young man with a serious heart defect, in the 1920s, learns to cope with life in spite of it. He is drawn to ocean creatures, perhaps because of the uncertain ocean within.
  • The Woman Who Lived in the House by Salvatore Scibona – A divorced man, also newly broke (the cause, not the result of the divorce) returns to the farm, where he must cope with a cannibalistic dog, even as his mind eats itself from within.
  • Corrie by Alice Munro – A story of an affair, this one long-term. Blackmail is involved, but what do you do when you've outlived your blackmailer? It has an unusual twist on the typical story of infidelity.
In the early years of the O. Henry Prize collection, I got a lot from nearly every story. For a number of recent years there has been such an emphasis on highly skillful writing that the notion a writer has to have something to say was forgotten. The pendulum seems to be swinging back.

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