Prize Stories 1993

William Miller Abrahams, Author
William Miller Abrahams, Author Doubleday Books $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-385-42531-5
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-385-42532-2
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This uneven entry in the 73-year-old short-fiction series features a bevy of tense relationships involving lovers and spouses, members of different races, and parents and children. Abrahams chooses stories by some of his perennial favorites with lackluster results (Joyce Carol Oates depicts a mother who helps her college-age son extricate himself from a rendezvous with an older woman; Alice Adams pens a reverie to a cat). And some stories feature timely plots or important themes but are written in prose that is amateurish or unbelievable (Peter Weltner describes gay lovers whose dissatisfactions with each other come to a head when their older gay neighbor dies; C. E. Poverman recounts an acquaintance rape from the point of view of the rapist, a male professor; in Josephine Jacobsen's scenario, a rich tourist catches her maid trying on her jewelry and inadvertently ruins her life. However, the anthology has some pieces that are both finely crafted and incisive. Through her description of a Christmas game of charades, Lorrie Moore demonstrates how members of a family fail to relate to one another; Cornelia Nixon captures the unhappy but symbiotic union of a wife, who says she desperately wants children, and a husband who refuses to be a father; and Steven Schwartz limns the guilt of a son whose father hid from the Nazis in a cramped baker's oven. (Apr.)
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