The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014 ~ Book Review

wpb14One of my goals for this year was to win an award for one of my short stories. Maybe an O. Henry Award is a bit ambitious, but when I stumbled across this anthology, I thought I might as well read what the competition was up to. That said, book read, I’m thinking I might focus my efforts on mystery story awards. It’s not that the stories in this book weren’t good, because they were, it’s just that with a short story, where an author has a very finite amount of time and space to make their impression, what resonates with me are stories that linger. By that I mean stories that I’m still thinking about days, weeks, months, sometimes even years later. I don’t feel that any of the stories in this anthology will linger with me.

This is, perhaps, (probably and most likely) a personal issue. Literature is writing about everyday life in a way that you strike a chord with the reader. You present something that they can relate to, something they identify with and thus make your impression, making the mundane memorable. In genre writing, such as mystery, you have the unfair advantage of crafting a plot that doesn’t necessarily have its roots planted in reality. Real life doesn’t impress me nearly as much as a plot twist that blindsides me, leaving me shocked and breathless. The last short story anthology I read was Eighteen by Jan Burke and I thought it was incredible. It’s been two months and a few of the stories are still as fresh in my mind as if I just read them. I can still recall most of them. I’d be hard pressed to remember any of the stories in this book next month. Again, my biased and personal opinion. Four stars.