The O. Henry Prize Stories 2006

Laura Furman, Editor, Kevin Brockmeier, Selected by, Francine Prose, Selected by . Anchor $14 (361p) ISBN 978-1-4000-9539-1

Series editor Furman (Drinking with the Cook ) casts a wide net in the latest installment of the long running award collection, aided by "jurors" Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose and Colm Tóibín, whose functions remain impressively unclear. Most of the prize stories turn on romance: in Alice Munro's "Passion" (already published in her collection Runaway) , a Canadian waitress falls for her fiancé's alcoholic brother when he mends her cut foot at a Thanksgiving family dinner. Behind the noir gravities of "Sault Ste. Marie," by the American David Means loom the long shadows of The Postman Always Rings Twice ; in Xu Xi's "Famine," a middle-aged school teacher from Hong Kong attempts to rid herself of her aged parents' thrift through a blowout at the Plaza. Others stories turn surreal. David Lawrence Means takes us to Ceta, a society that lives on the back of a great whale (in "Conceived"), while in Stephanie Reents's "Disquisition on Tears," a recluse is visited by an intrusive, hectoring woman without a head. The best story in the book might be Pulitzer Prize–winner Edward P. Jones's "Old Boys, Old Girls," in which a battered antihero feels the powerful lure of innocence as he meets family members born during his incarceration for murder in a powerful, moving encounter. (May 9)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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