Tonight I read the first two stories in the 2012 Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories. Wonderful, both.*
Alice Mattison writes plainly in the latter story. Descriptions of characters skew more towards longform journalism or memoir rather than literary fiction. Despite and because of its unpretentiousness, "The Vandercook" resonates with a mixture of verisimilitude and beauty that again reminds me how profound this medium can be.
Molly turned, looking at Tony, not me, and I understood that it was because she didn't want to find out--yet--how much she had lost. I couldn't look at her frightened face. I wanted love to be simple. I wanted to tell her how nimbly our son with his new haircut had darted across the street, how scared he seemed, how hard it was not to run toward him, stretching my arms out wide.Short stories will survive the novel's demise. I hope.
*I also read a story by Mark Helprin but will withhold my opinion of the latter out of the regard for my readers whose taste in such matters surpasses my own and who much esteem the man.