PRIZE STORIES 1984: The O. Henry Awards by William--Ed. Abrahams

PRIZE STORIES 1984: The O. Henry Awards

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Cynthia Ozick's scouring yet rich ""Rosa""--a breathtaking story of a Holocaust survivor's justifiably mad life in vulgar yet touching Miami Beach--is the O. Henry first-prize winner this year; it features an etching, particular, non-eccentric narrative voice--something that's on short supply elsewhere in the 1984 collection. Among the better stories, there are several with interesting content: James Salter's ""Lost Sons,"" about a West Point reunion; Jonathan Baumbach's ""The Life and Times of Major Fiction""--about a tangential literary figure. Others succeed with sheer stylistic polish: Alice Adams' ""Alaska,"" Daniel Menaker's ""The Old Left,"" Charles Dickinson's ""Risk."" And Gordon Lish's fantasy about J. D. Salinger's old Jewish father haranguing at his son's reclusiveness offers a shtick-voice--funny for three pages, insufferable after nearly 40. But too many of the selections here seem anonymously, interchangeably written among their genres: Texas-raunchy, academic-discreet, academic-nostalgic, educated-brittle. Only three, in fact, share the Ozick story's integrity, ardor, and authority: Willis Johnson's story of a young Russian Orthodox priest, ""Prayer for the Dying""; Grace Paley's unbuttoned ""The Story Hearer""; and Helen Norris' full-feelinged ""The Love Child."" A solid O. Henry gathering, then, but one that's only sporadically affecting.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday