Prize Stories 1996

William Miller Abrahams, Author
William Miller Abrahams, Author Doubleday Books $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-385-48130-4
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-385-48182-3
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In the introduction to this, the 30th annual edition of the O. Henry awards he has edited, Abrahams announces that this will be his last year as series editor. Oddly, one of the weaker stories in this year's collection is the one to which Abrahams has awarded first prize, Stephen King's ""The Man in the Black Suit."" Likewise, Joyce Carol Oates weighs in with a rather run-of-the-mill story, ""Mark of Satan,"" but other established writers are nicely showcased by fine work, such as Alice Adams's ""His Women,"" and Jane Smiley's ""The Life of the Body."" There are also strong stories from up- and- coming writers Ralph Lombreglia and Elizabeth Graver. Abrahams has always been refreshingly open to new voices, and two relative unknowns make especially strong appearances: Lucy Honig with ""Citizens Review,"" about a racially loaded confrontation between police and residents of a poor neighborhood; and Tom Paine, whose ""Will You Say Something, Monsieur Eliot,"" tells of a shipwrecked wealthy American who is rescued by a group of Haitian refugees. Although this may not be one of the best collections Abrahams has ever assembled, it provides ample reminder that his presence on the American literary scene will be sorely missed. (Apr.)
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