Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/14

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INTRODUCTION

North Carolina; and Robert L. Ramsay, of the University of Missouri and editor of "Short Stories of America," were the new members on the annual committee. Ellis Parker Butler, author of "Pigs Is Pigs," retiring President of the Authors' League of America; and Allan Nevins, literary editor of the Sun (New York), were the remaining members of the committee of seven who adjudged the thirty-six stories.

At a meeting on November 25th, of a committee quorum, twenty-four stories were discussed as candidates for three prizes. Those present besides the Chairman were Ethel Watts Mumford, Frances Gilchrist Wood, Ellis Parker Butler, and Allan Nevins. The absent members, Edward J. Erwin and Robert L. Ramsay, telegraphed their preferences. The judges differed not only over the best of the few best stories but on the quality of brief fiction published in 1924. One expressed the fear that there were not enough stories to make a volume. Another commented that no peaks rise above the level—a level, however, admittedly high. The Chairman believes more good stories have appeared than in any year preceding.

Consideration of the candidates for the $100 prize, which is awarded to the best short short story, disclosed that four were in the running. "Fly Paper," by Mary Arbuckle; "The Uninvited," by Thomas Boyd; "Rachel and Her Children," by Frances Newman; and "The Man Who Loved Hate," by Wallace Smith. It was agreed that this last-named story bears strongest resemblance to O. Henry’s tales; but—it should be repeated—this prize is not to perpetuate O. Henry’s influence. O. Henry would be the first to approve that one who most honoured his technique by destroying it, if after the destruction the vandal built something better. The strong realism of "Fly Paper" was granted but with the regret that it falters toward the close. "The Uninvited" and "Rachel and Her Children" (both, as it happens, having been published in the American Mercury) remained. The merits of these were duly weighed, with the result that the committee unanimously voted the special prize to "Rachel and Her Children."

In its mental revolutions around a single incident, Miss Newman's narrative illustrates a growing reliance of present-day writers on the single point of view. The external incident