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 Elizabeth McCracken
"Birdsong from the Radio"
2015 O. Henry Award-winning Author

For some reason I remember very clearly my father explaining to me the difference between O. Henry, the writer, and Hank Aaron, after whom the Oh, Henry! bar was named. Saki came into the equation, too, being another short story writer of similar vintage who took a pen name. For years these three men were yoked together in my memory, until I started shelving books as a teenager and actually read a bunch of O. Henry stories (which were filed, as was the custom in this library, under his actual name; even Mark Twain was filed under Clemens, which always struck me as pretty bloody-minded of the cataloguing department). I didn't read the O. Henry anthologies till later; they were filed upstairs in the 800s, a different teenage shelver's beat. I can't remember when I understood that the O. Henry was even something I might foolishly hope to be included in someday: well into my 30s, I think, and even then it seemed to much to dream of. Here I am, in my late 40s and the O. Henry: I couldn't be more delighted.

(author photo © Edward Carey)

Writing Tips

I don't understand a single thing about it, I think, except that you have to think the most interesting thoughts you can in order to do it.

About the Author

Elizabeth McCracken is the author of two story collections Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry and Thunderstruck & Other Stories, two novels The Giant's House and Niagara Falls All Over Again, and a memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. She teaches at the University of Texas, Austin, and lives in Austin, Texas.

Writer's Desk

I am working on several things that I'm entirely too superstitious to talk about.

Writer's Desk

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