The American short story has been notable in the 20th century for a tremendous variety of technique and subject matter, but this diversity finds little expression in the 70th edition of The O. Henry Awards , which contains primarily works musing in the traditional realist style on familiar aspects of heterosexual love and the return to small-town or suburban origins . However, within those limits many of the 20 well-crafted pieces here--including Leo E. Litwak's first-prize-winning ``The Eleventh Hour,'' in which a graduate student chooses quotidian human struggles over academe's flights of intellect--are deeply satisfying. To mention two others: Lore Segal's ``The Reverse Bug,'' which postulates a device that forces people to listen to the screams of the 20th century, and Joanne Greenberg's ``Elizabeth Baird,'' the account of a Southern nurse who comes home from a Japanese POW camp to find her loyalties have grown astoundingly complex. The space for author's comments at the back of the book tempts some writers to give pedestrian explanations and weighty morals that they carefully avoid in their fiction. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990 Release date: 03/01/1990 Genre: Nonfiction
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