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 Ann Packer
"Things Said and Done"
2012 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

This is my second time to be honored by inclusion in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, the first having occurred a full twenty years ago, for one of my earliest published stories. It's no less a thrill now than it was then.

(author photo © Elena Seibert)

Writing Tips

I remember an old New Yorker cartoon—cocktail party genre—in which two people are standing together and one says to the other something along the lines of "Yes, I'm a writer, but not the kind who has to work every day or he'll get depressed." I'm not exactly that kind either, but writing brings me satisfaction, well-being, excitement, happiness, peace, pleasure—some combination of those things that I can't imagine finding in any other endeavor.

About the Author

Ann Packer was born in Stanford, California, in 1959. She is the author of two novels (The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Songs Without Words) and two books of short fiction (Mendocino and Other Stories and Swim Back to Me). Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Zoetrope: All Story, Ploughshares, and Narrative Magazine, among other publications. The Dive from Clausen's Pier received a Great Lakes Book Award, an American Library Association Award, and the Kate Chopin Literary Award. A past recipient of support from the Michener Copernicus Society and the National Endowment for the Arts, she lives in San Carlos, California.

Writer's Desk

I'm at work on a new novel that I can't talk about just yet—as much out of ignorance as superstition.

Writing Tips

From "Things Said or Done" by Ann Packer

"What does the doctor think?"

"I haven't been," he says. "She'll order a scan; I'll be like one of those suitcases at the airport."

I say she might ask a question or two first, but he ignores me, looking off into the distance and caressing his chin. He says, "Have you ever thought about this? They have CAT scans and PET scans, but CAT scans aren't a kind of PET scan—there's a taxonomy problem. CAT scans should be a kind of PET scan, and there should be other PET scans, too—DOG scans, which would be, you know, Diagnostic Oldfart Geriatricography. And RABBIT scans, Retired Alterkocker Bladder..."

Writer's Desk

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

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