Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the authors of the winning and recommended stories free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments David Bradley
"You Remember the Pin Mill"
2014 O. Henry Award-winning Author

For me, short fiction is dangerous territory. My taste reclines toward the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries—to hearts of darkness, flowering judases, eighty-yard runs, to open boats, open windows, open winters, and characters whose business is trouble. I often read more modern stories with impatience; I love the language and the imagery but can't always find the narrative. Contemporary stories oftentimes fill me with wonder, but sometimes I just wonder.

Trying to write in any form when you're unsure of the esthetic is exhilarating and challenging. I kept revising this story for years because I got high on the challenge, but was never certain I would ever get the form right. I was certain I hadn't. Several editors agreed. I was surprised when Narrative decided I'd gotten close enough. I was shocked and humbled to learn the story would appear beside the work of the most skilled practitioners of the form. I'm profoundly grateful, completely amazed, and a little terrified.

(author photo © Robert Hill)

About the Author

Form aside, writing is writing. Given basic language skills, the essentials are not talent or creativity, but patience, endeavor and humility. Especially humility. Writing is trial-and-error...which is to say, mostly error followed by a lot of revisions. Imagination is important, but less so than observation. Inspiration is welcome, but less reliable than extrapolation. Afterthoughts are more important than thoughts; constant mindfulness is everything. Technique? To steal a line from Joseph Heller, "Never mind the trick. What the hell's the point?"

Author's Desk

For years—never mind exactly how many—I have been writing long creative nonfiction meditations (they're too long to be called essays) about race, history and America intended to form a collective I call The Bondage Hypothesis. I think I'm almost finished. That's what I said two years ago. And buoyed by recent encouragements, I am working on a cycle of long stories set in Western Pennsylvania, called Raystown.

About the Author

David Bradley was born and raised in Bedford, in Western Pennsylvania. He is the author of two novels, South Street and The Chaneysville Incident, which was awarded the 1982 PEN Faulkner Award and an Academy Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Both novels have been recently released in electronic editions. Since 1985, Bradley has worked primarily in creative nonfiction, publishing in such periodicals as Esquire, Redbook, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Philadelphia Magazine, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Nation, and Dissent. His recent work has also appeared online in Obit, Narrative, and Brevity. Bradley, who holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in United States Studies from the University of London, has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Bradley lives in La Jolla, CA.

Writer's Desk

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