Culled from dozens of the most prestigious literary magazines throughout America and Canada, the 20 stories included in this year's O. Henry Prize collection make an impressive and eclectic crop, including seasoned vets (Alice Munro), rising stars (Tony D'Souza) and virtual unknowns (Jan Ellison, with her first published story). Each richly developed story is as captivating as its predecessor, whether the subject is Vietnam, American exile, traveling alone or domestic violence. William Trevor's unnerving ""The Room"" features a woman in the throws of a meaningless affair-her feeble attempt at dealing with her husband's indiscretions nine years prior. Adam Haslett delicately prods at a young man's trembling entree into the homosexual life of ""The City."" A bewildered daughter witnesses her aging father lose control of his linguistic faculties in Brian Evenson's immensely frightening ""Mudder Tongue."" Readers will want to relish each of these stories at its own well-deserved pace; a collection this good deserves savoring. Also included are essays written by the three jurors (Charles D'Ambrosio, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Lily Tuck) on their personal favorites, as well as thoughts from each writer on inspiration and the writing life.