Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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About the Editor

2013

Each story in the O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 contains its own world. The late Hortense Calisher called the short story "an apocalypse in a teacup," a definition that points to an important element in the story: the threat, sometimes fulfilled, of the destruction or undermining of that world.

In some stories in our 2013 collection, it is a heart that takes a beating, as in Alice Munro's "Leaving Maverley." In others, it's an idea a character has about herself, as in Ann Beattie's "Anecdotes," whose narrator learns when to stop doing favors. Tash Aw's "Sail" is about a global emptiness the main character carries inside, and there's destruction of several varieties in "The History of Girls" by Ayşe Papatya Bucak, "Pérou" by Lily Tuck, "Your Duck Is My Duck" by Deborah Eisenberg, and L. Annette Binder's "Lay My Head." Even in a story that seems more antic than apocalyptic, Kelly Link's "The Summer People," the world is altered beyond retrieval. A story that lacks the convincing threat of change simply doesn't work.

While you are reading a really good story, you are caught in its world whether you like it or not, as trapped as Donald Antrim's characters in "He Knew," making their odyssey up elegant Madison Avenue, and as the warring scientists on Andrea Barrett's ship of fools in "The Particles." Each reading of The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 uncovers another aspect of the transformative change that we look for in fiction.

It's my hope that you'll read these twenty wonderful stories and enjoy in each the tension and beauty that is the hallmark of the short story.

Laura Furman
West Lake Hills, Texas
September 2013
(Copyright © 2013 Laura Furman)

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(photo © Ave Bonar)