Jane Smiley’s ‘‘Long Distance’’ was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in January 1987 and then published later the same year in Smiley’s shortstory collection, The Age of Grief. Smiley wrote this book after she divorced her second husband, historian William Silag, an event that influenced the content of the stories—all of which deal with marriage and family in some regard. In the case of ‘‘Long Distance,’’ which won Smiley her third O. Henry Award, the story examines one man’s reaction to a failed relationship. During the course of a family holiday gathering, he is forced to confront his views of love, marriage, and responsibility, and in the process he realizes that his selfish actions have cheated others—and himself. Smiley wrote the story during a time when the concept of the American family was changing. Evolving roles of men and women—due in part to the influence of the modern women’s movement and freer sexual attitudes for both men and women—were changing the structure of many families. Although The Age of Grief is not as well known as Smiley’s novels, particularly her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, A Thousand Acres, it has received overwhelmingly positive criticism. A copy of ‘‘Long Distance’’ can be found in the paperback edition of The Age of Grief, published in 2002 by Anchor.