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 Leslie Parry
"The Vanishing American"
2011 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

Usually I'm happy just to get a personalized rejection letter, so the fact that this story was picked from the slush pile by the Virginia Quarterly Review, and now has been included in a collection I read with genuine pleasure every year—it's beyond what I expected. I'm honored and humbled to be part of such a tradition.

(author photo © Cris Capen)

Writing Tips

Like everyone else, I've gone through brief, heated phases in my life, had my share of fizzled affairs: I played the electric guitar, took tap-dance lessons, embarrassed myself in Little League, and attempted some Brenda Walsh-like performances in experimental theater. But the one thing that I've loved thoroughly, deliriously, unabatedly, ever since I was a kid, is reading. When some people hear that I write, they think it's glamorous, which is both flattering and laughable. I don't tell them that I spend most of my time alone, or that I forget to shower (hey, I'm not leaving the house anyway), or that I'm always worried about money, or that I've written dozens of stories that no one will ever read. But what motivates me—what keeps me from switching tracks or giving up—is the unparalleled joy I get from fiction.

About the Author

Leslie Parry was born in Los Angeles in 1979. She is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. "The Vanishing American" is her first published story. She lives in Los Angeles.

Writer's Desk

I'm writing a few new stories and a novella about baseball.

Writer's Desk

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

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