The O. Henry Prize Stories 2017
Twenty short stories selected by series editor Laura Furman with three academic jurors commenting on their favorite from the series make up this annual collection. The selections vary in length and style and describe a range of cultures. The opening piece summarizes the timely topic of addiction with the usual anguish of the family observing the protagonist undergoing recurring rehabilitation lapses. The story immerses the reader in the family’s emotions of hope and despair. Another story deals with the draw of drugs on the thoughtless young. There are tales of family interactions, fascination with cars, an expatriate Buddhist teacher drowning within his own insecurities. Many of the stories are easily forgotten and unfortunately, except for a few, do not live up to the spark that illuminates an O. Henry tale. While many of the stories are reflective, few, if any, are uplifting or thought provoking. It seems that there is a certain style that attracted the editor to choose these pieces, but except for a few at the beginning of the book, most of the tales seem blasé and easily forgotten. The introduction provides a much more satisfying read than much of the selected contents.
Laura Furman, Editor