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Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, and Gargoyle #57, among others. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. Currently, I'm an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. I'm also working on two novels and a short story collection. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

O'Henry Prize Stories 2006




Ever since I started writing a few years ago, I’ve made it a point to buy the “year’s best” anthologies. The O’Henry Prize Stories is a must-read for me; it showcases stories which for various reasons, someone determined to be the best of the year and I want to read them for myself to see why. Every year reading these winning stories elicits joy, awe, and excitement in me and deepens my love for the short story. Some of these I'd read before in short story collections or in literary journals (and loved even more after another reading) and some were new.

This year the stories were chosen by series editor Laura Furman and three jurors, Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose, and Colm Toibin chose their personal favorites. In the back of the anthology is a section for writers to talk about the inspiration for their stories (I love this section) and each juror writes why his or her favorite story stood out among such an excellent group.

Edward P Jones begins the series of twenty stories with “Old Boys, Old Girls,” an amazing story in which he illuminates the life of one of Jones’ earlier characters, Caesar Mathews, as he endures his days in prison and beyond.

Jackie Kay’s “You Go When You Can No Longer Stay” is a hilarious and poignant story of a couple’s break-up.

Lydia Peele’s “Mule Killers” is an achingly sad story of loss and acceptance. (This one made me weep)

In “The Broad Estates of Death” by Paula Fox a man travels cross country with his new wife to see his father for the first time in over two decades.

“Pelvis Series” by Neela Vaswani is the gorgeous story of a woman who communicates, using ASL, with chimpanzees.

David Lawrence Morse’s “Conceived” works on so many levels. Not only is the story rich and beautiful, but this multi-layered story of a man living on the spine of a giant fish with his village offers much to examine and explore.

William Trevor writes of a man’s guilt over an accident in “The Dressmaker’s Child.”

In Stephanie Reents’ “Disquisition on Tears,” an ill woman is visited by a woman carrying her head in her hands.

David Means’ characters are hard and wild in his gritty “Sault Ste. Marie.”

In Karen Brown’s “Unction” a young pregnant woman finds love and attempts to match make.

A family travels to New Zealand looking for safety in Teresa Svoboda’s “‘80s Lilies.”

In Alice Monroe’s “Passion,” a woman recalls a turning point in her life upon returning to her home.

In George Makana Clark’s “The Center of the World,” the new world encroaches on the old in Rhodesia.

Susan Fromberg Schaeffer writes of a woman’s despair in “Wolves.”

Douglas Trevor writes of class differences in Boston in his story, “Girls I Know.”

In Louise Erdrich’s “The Plague of Doves,” stories are handed down through generations.

The narrator in Xu Xi’s “Famine,” flies to New York and tries to quiet feelings of desperate pain through opulence and abundance.

In Lara Vapnyar’s “Puffed Rice and Meatballs,” a woman recalls two moments in her Russian childhood.

A young battered woman writes to people who have touched her life in Melanie Rae Thon’s “Letters in the Snow.”

And allow Deborah Eisenberg to take you on a journey with her amazing story “Windows.” This is a fine example of a writer following the story rather than dictating the story. Stunning.

I liked each of these for different reasons, but my personal favorites were:

“Old Boys, Old Girls”
“You Go When You Can No Longer Stay”
“Mule Killers”—it’s not often a story can make me weep.
“Disquisition on Tears”
“Wolves”
“Famine”
“Windows”

Pick up a copy and see which ones will be your favorites. Happy reading!!

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