Last Courtesies Criticism

Ella Leffland
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“Last Courtesies” won the O. Henry Award in 1977, shortly after the short story's first appearance in print, in a 1976 Harper's Magazine. When the collection Last Courtesies was published in 1980, John Romano, for the New York Times, described the collection as a series of “sad tales” which contain characters who are “profoundly alone,” are suffering, and “cannot make [themselves] understood.” However, Romano modified his statement by asserting that even though Leffland's characters suffer these problems, readers are not, at first, fully aware of the characters' anguish because, according to Romano, “the narrator is always there with them.” Romano further explained that the reader is not completely taken into the characters' pain because Leffland's “authorial presence is distinctly caring,” and her “imagination is always bound up with sympathy.”

In a 2003 article, written for the Kenyon Review, Henry Alley completes a comprehensive overview of the various winners of the...

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This section contains 321 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Last Courtesies Study Guide
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