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Comments on Grumpy Old Bookman: Laura Forman (editor): The O. Henry Prize Stories





Updated: 2018-01-17T05:56:38.258+00:00

 



Le Carre is Kafka + excitement. Much as i like Kaf...

2007-07-18T19:53:00.000+01:00

Le Carre is Kafka + excitement. Much as i like Kafka, reading him is like climbing a mountain; reading Le Carre is more like skiing. Not that i've done either, mind.



I liked some of the stories in this collection a l...

2007-07-18T03:57:00.000+01:00

I liked some of the stories in this collection a lot, and though I have an MFA, I'm untrammeled by whatever they teach the short-fiction crowd because I didn't do ANY fiction.

That said, it's fun to go back to the first volume (available at my local public library!) and browse the stories. Some of them are unreadable today, in a way that O. Henry's stories rarely are. Some of them are excellent or at least good reading. They are all intended for a popular audience, and that's not a bad thing.



Well, call me a fool but I think Le Carre IS liter...

2007-07-18T03:45:00.000+01:00

Well, call me a fool but I think Le Carre IS literary fiction, whether the critics have realized it or not. I view him as having inherited directly from Graham Greene.



i'm fed up with this shite about literary fiction....

2007-07-17T22:26:00.000+01:00

i'm fed up with this shite about literary fiction. Put Ian McEwan in the ring with John Le Carre or Charles McCarry, aged as they are, and they'd use their MI6/CIA unarmed combat skills to break his neck like a dry twig. That's all there is to it.

Maybe because there's generally no money at all in 'literary fiction' (i.e. crap), examplars of this art need a big ego credit in lieu of a cheque, and so practice the long-standing art of looking down their noses at anyone who knows about plot, dialogue, pacing, etc.

Booker Prize winners? Shakespeare would have stomped on them with a cry of rage.



And, incidentally, I love O. Henry's own stories.

2007-07-17T15:02:00.000+01:00

And, incidentally, I love O. Henry's own stories.



Umm, Jon--Whatever you think of the stories in thi...

2007-07-17T15:00:00.000+01:00

Umm, Jon--

Whatever you think of the stories in this collection (I quite like some of them, and didn't care for others), I hardly think that William Trevor or Alice Munro or Ariel Dorfman can be described as "new writers." These people are veterans by any definition of the word.

And, no, these writers didn't "give it away". Trevor and Munro's stories were published first in the New Yorker, and there are other stories in this collection from Harper's, Atlantic, and McSweeney's--pretty much all of the prestige-and-pay markets in America.

I also don't understand how this is a "low-budget" publication. Anchor Books is a well-known and long-established imprint of Random House. And, again, no matter what you think of the stories, and whether or not they provide cash prizes, being selected as one of the O Henry winners has been prestigious in the US for nearly a century now.

And, no, I'm not associated with this publication in any way.



My teeth hurt every time I hear this business abou...

2007-07-17T14:22:00.000+01:00

My teeth hurt every time I hear this business about "serious" writers and "litahrary" magazines, as though all other writers are slugs and magazines primitive dreck.



I suspect one reason they don't attract any good s...

2007-07-17T11:43:00.000+01:00

I suspect one reason they don't attract any good stories is because good writers know that their work is valuable property, and are not about to give it away to a low-budget publication. Because - unless there's a prize of some kind which is not mentioned on the site - this seems to be what they are being asked to do. New writers need the publicity: established writers generally prefer cash.