Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/23

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INTRODUCTION

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ies—American in setting, in feeling, and in tone, as in the required authorship—had fallen among those adjudged best. Mexico-American, Mennonite, Cape Cod old-timer and Cape Cod new citizen, gobs in Greece, Professor in West Brookins, Margaret Blake, American sportsman, David Davenant—business man, Southern doctor, Mississippi River professionals, Southern aristocrat, old lady Daughter of the Revolution and Daughter of the Confederacy—all are varieties of the genus Americanus. Only the first prize story is wholly outside the American scene. And even there, not to press the matter too far, one links the Harvard home with New England, shuttles between the memorial room in St. Saviour's and a certain statue in the grounds of Harvard University.

This continuity of scene and character is quite accidental and proves nothing, though it happens to differentiate this volume from its predecessors. If any conclusion is to be drawn it is that this group of judges appreciates the art that prompts our story writers to find fictional worth in what is near at hand.

Robert L. Ramsay says he was most impressed by "the increasing number of symbolistic short stories, stories with a touch or more than a touch of mysticism. Many of these, such as Roy Dickinson's 'The Ultimate Frog' and Fleta Campbell Springer's 'Legend' are imperfect in execution and uncertain of aim, but there is in them an originality and sincerity missing in most stories that follow older grooves." Frances Gilchrist Wood and the Chairman rate "The Ultimate Frog" among the best stories of the year. The Chairman recommended it to the editor of Current Opinion and understands that he, too, charmed by its unusual character, chose it for reprinting.

Mr. Ramsay also notes the brave persistence of the local colour story—such as "The River Combine" and Paul Green's "The Devil's Instrument"—in spite of the fact that certain critics have sounded its death knell. He comments on the apparent recrudescence of the historical story and "the curious epidemic of kid stories." He also finds promise among the new writers—particularly in May Freud Dickenson, Meigs Frost, and Margaret Culkin Banning.

The following list is of stories that ranked highest with the annual committee. Those starred totalled a somewhat higher