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 Martha Cooley
"Mercedes Benz"
2017 O. Henry Award-winning Author

I can still recall the first time I came across O. Henry's famous story "After Twenty Years." I was around ten years old. My first thought was, Oh, that was fun! My next reaction: Uh, that was really sad. My third thought: Is there a bad guy in this story, and if so, how can I say who he is? And then: Whoa, life's a mess but awfully interesting... The O. Henry Prize Stories have always prompted multiple reactions, challenging us readers to rethink how and who we are. The series is unfailingly lively and diverse. I'm delighted to be part of it.

(author photo © Antonio Romano)

Writing Tips

I like what the late Alastair Reid, a marvelous translator and poet, once said to me about his own writing: "I do it to discover what I think by seeing what I say." Yes, that's it. And a writer can swap "feel" for "think"—they both apply.

Writer's Desk

I'm finishing up a third novel. It deals with money, solitude, and the perils and pleasures of chance. Money is a subject that makes me want to stick my head in the sand—it frightens me—so I figured, Oh heck, I should probably try to write about it....

About the Author

Born in New Jersey, Martha Cooley is the author of two novels: The Archivist and Thirty-Three Swoons. Her short stories, essays, and translations have appeared in numerous literary magazines. Her most recent book is a memoir, Guesswork: A Reckoning With Loss. She teaches at Adelphi University and lives in Queens, New York.

Writer's Desk

Browse our archive of featured authors from this and other editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories.

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