Books: A Disparate Decade

PRIZE STORIES OF THE SEVENTIES: FROM THE O. HENRY AWARDS

Selected by William Abrahams; Doubleday; 404 pages; $12.95

If the novel is, as Randall Jarrell suggested, a long narrative that has something wrong with it, the short story of the past decade might be said to suffer from a tendency toward perfection. Talented writers keep popping up in the few magazines that still publish fiction. The technical level is high; yet the values that make a good story—compression, subtle tone and a microsurgical eye—strike many readers as too precious and inhospitable. One can inhabit a...

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