Cynthia Ozick's ""Puttermesser Paired""--further misadventures of a 50-ish spinster lawyer--is the first-prize winner in this year's volume. Editor Abrahams's ongoing respect for her work notwithstanding, this is not the best Ozick: Though dense with eccentric detail and of course stylish, it is (like a number of late Ozick productions) more about previous literature than character. The O. Henry tends away from the trendy, but this year there are some interestingly new-wave-ish stories represented: Murray Pomerance's ""Decor"" and Daniel Meltzer's quite funny and garish ""People."" Ken Chowder, a fine novelist, is well represented with ""With Seth in Tana Toraja""--a loose, sketchy, lurching story that's redolent of the saddest and sweetest parts of the Sixties and early Seventies. More conventionally, Alice Adams has a good, tight story here, ""The Last Lovely City""; as does Perri glass with ""Dedication."" Best in The New Yorker-ish mode (and, in fact, from that magazine) is David Long's ""Blue Spruce""--a tale about uneasy sisters-in-law living, just the two of them, in the same house. The collection's high point (but impressively underplayed) is Antonya Nelson's ""The Control Group""--a foster child's infatuation with his fourth-grade teacher, a small lost soul in search of trust. Nothing else in the volume is quite as affecting or seems so plainly true.