This 33rd annual volume of the O. Henry prize stories is this year satisfying and stimulating both in variety of pace and mood and in the calibre of writing. Old familiar faces and phases are balanced by refreshing new talent, and the editor has not hesitated to expand his choices beyond the rich fields of Harper's. The Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, and Mademoiselle to include selections from Epoch Southwest Review, Pacific Spectator and other smaller magazines. Although there are specifically current touches -- John Campbell Smith's story of loneliness and disillusion in post-war Germany; Silvia Shirley's touching study of the parental tragedy behind modern pioneering in Israel; and the shadow of approaching militarism in a nightmare story of men and machines by Frank Rooney -- the bulk of the stories dwell on fleeting, sobering studies of eternals in human relationships -- the rambling weariness of old age; the terrible sense of time passing; a child's pathetic wonder at adult imperviousness; and the driving insecurity fostered by a materialistic civilization. Yet there is a new note of hope striking through the disillusions; a fresh discovery of the richness of human character in its individual manifestations. Faulkner, McCullers, Capote, Stafford, Cheever, Welty have contributed some unique selections here, but have brilliant competition. Top quality in an established series.