The Iowa Award: The Best Stories from Twenty Years

Frank Conroy, Author University of Iowa Press $24.95 (329p) ISBN 978-0-87745-313-0
The Iowa Short Fiction Award, established in 1969, entails publication of the winner's first collection of stories. For this anniversary volume the director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop has gathered stories from each of the 25 prize-winning collections (there were two winners in some years). Though diverse in subject matter, the stories deliver a common immediacy developed by the authors' close observations of intimate, small-scale happenings. Susan Dodd's ``Rue'' finds a world of emotion in a middle-aged woman's long-postponed search for the husband who abandoned her. ``Little Bear'' by Robert Boswell explores a bewildered young soldier's unfulfilled search for meaning in the cold wet trenches of Korean battlefields. In ``Elba'' by Marly Swick, intergenerational relationships shift with news of a grandchild born to a daughter given away 25 years earlier. Philip F. O'Connor in ``American Gothic'' delivers a spellbinding evocation of teenage cruelty among a group of library pages. Most of these tales are contemporary in tone and format, developed in nonlinear, impressionistic fashion. While some do not live up to their authors' later work, all are skillfully told. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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