The first-prize and second-prize winners aren't the O. Henry standouts this year: Raymond Carver's ""A Small, Good Thing,"" a story expanded from its version in Carver's last collection, now, though intermittently affecting, shows the stretch marks of Carver's most pressing problem, the tendency to bathos; and Joyce Carol Oates' ""My Warsawa"" is an almost brazenly boring piece about a well-known female American writer's visit to Poland. But the third-prize winner here--Wright Morris' ""Victrola,"" about an old man and an equally old dog--is an almost invisibly great work of short fiction, as seemingly artless yet as perfect as the best Chekhov. And, though nothing else in this anthology comes close to Morris' brilliance, Abrahams' increasing assurance as editor--balancing the adventurous with the reliable--is on firm display. Among the more daring items: a strong story of explicit sexual experiment, ""Feasting,"" by Elizabeth Benedict; and ""Poor Boy,"" in which Linda Lloyd makes intriguing fiction out of a clear, cinematic, yet extremely effective idea--a murder victim watching, all-seeing, over subsequent events. Unsurprising but solid: John Updike's ""The City""; Mary Gotdon's ""The Only Son of the Doctor""; William F. Van Wert's ""Putting and Gardening."" Elizabeth Spencer's ""Jean Pierre"" isn't up to her high standards, but is crafty. W. D. Wetherall shows himself again as interesting, if sentimental, with ""If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood."" And David Jauss' ""Shards"" shows off a promising, still-tentative talent. In all, then: an above-average, often refreshingly bold gathering--reaffirming the superiority of the O. Henry series to the post-Foley Best American Stories. . . and a valuable book, if only for that Wright Morris marvel.