The favorites finish first this time out: Bellow's roistering "A Silver Dish," Barthelme's "The New Music," a section from Malamud's Dubin's Lives, Styron's "Shadrach," and Singer's "A Party in Miami Beach." Also worthy: Rosellen Brown's good but too self-registering "The Wedding Week"; Lynn Sharon Schwartz's slightly brittle "Plaisir D'Amour"; Silvia Tennenbaums's well-sustained but curiously unmoving "A Lingering Death"; and Herbert Wilner's vividly clinical but sentimental "The Quarterback Speaks to His God." The rest are hardly even in the running: a posthumous, not very good story by Flannery O'Connor, and efforts by Scan Virgo, Kaatje Hurlbut, Rolf Yngve, Peter LaSalle, Lyn Coffin, Ruth McLaughlin, Robley Wilson Jr., Mary Hedin, Annette Sanford, Paul Bowles, Jean Thompson, Maxine Kumin, Louis D. Rubin, and Jayne Anne Phillips. And, though Oates' introduction offers this year's anthology as a tribute to the little-known and small-press-published stories, they are generally the weakest of the lot. The exception -- and the highlight of the collection -- is alice Munro's "Spelling," little-mag-published and stunning, one of Munro's alert, heart-crumbling Flo and Rose stories (see The Beggar Maid, p. 882), bare and bristly and sadly comic. A largely drab round-up, then, with the few, best stories utterly overshadowing the lesser efforts.