Margot Mifflin
May 24, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Prize Stories 1991; The O. Henry Awards

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
William Abrahams
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Short Stories, Fiction

We gave it a B

Prize Stories 1991 are the stories that received O. Henry awards for 1991 were selected, for the 25th consecutive year, by William Abrahams. Perhaps his long tenure as a judge for this prize explains Abrahams’ partiality here to tales about aging and death. John Updike’s ”A Sandstone Farmhouse,” a nostalgic account of a mother’s widowhood and passing, received first prize, though some of the other selections address mortality with less treacle and more originality. Notable among these are Sylvia A. Watanabe’s ”Talking to the Dead,” the story of a squeamish Hawaiian girl’s rocky apprenticeship to a medicine woman, and Dennis McFarland’s ”Nothing to Ask For,” a poignant narrative by a man whose best friend is dying of AIDS. But the freshest, most electric entry is deliriously life-affirming: Charles Baxter’s ”Saul and Patsy Are Pregnant,” the story of an overeducated schoolteacher obsessed with a blissfully hickish young couple. Worth all the rest. B

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