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 Keith Ridgway
"Rothko Eggs"
2012 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

It's always gratifying when something that I work on quietly and alone, and with a great deal of doubt about its worth, finds a readership. When that readership likes what I've done, is engaged or moved or intrigued or excited by it, then I'm a happy writer.

(author photo © Mary Popper)

Writing Tips

Writers like to pretend that they know what they're doing. But they don't really. And if they think they do then I suspect they're not doing it right. Writing is about the inexpressible and the fragile, and in my case it comes from a deep sense of confusion and inarticulacy. I write because I don't understand anything. And that's not to say that I'm writing in order to understand. I just want to acknowledge the bafflement.

About the Author

Keith Ridgway was born in 1965 in Dublin and brought there. He lived in London for ten years. His first novel, The Long Falling, received the Prix Femina Étranger in 2001, and was made into a film directed by Martin Provost. Ridgway was awarded The Rooney Prize for his short story collection Standard Time. He is also the author of the novels The Parts and Animals. His newest book is Hawthorn & Child. He lives in Edinburgh.

Writer's Desk

I'm currently putting the finishing touches to a book called Hawthorn & Child (of which "Rothko Eggs" forms a part) for publication in Summer 2012. Then I have to get back to a new novel which has been in my head for the last year or so but which only exists on paper in the form of disjointed notes and question marks.

Writing Tips

From "Rothko Eggs" by Keith Ridgway

She didn't know what to do about Rothko. She didn't understand Rothko. Everything about Rothko made her want to like him. All the things people said and wrote made her want to like him. They talked about warmth and love and feelings, like religious feelings. She wondered about herself, about what was wrong with her that she couldn't feel those things. Or didn't feel them when she looked at Rothko. She had been, twice, to the Rothko Room in the Tate. And her dad had taken her to the big exhibition of lots of his stuff. But she didn't get it. Soft focus blocks of dusty color. One of them made her think of sunsets on summer holiday in Cornwall, so she liked that one, a bit. But Rothko. He did not move her.

Writer's Desk

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