Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reading Journal: CVC: Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology Series, Book One, ed. Gloria Vanderbilt (2011)

Exile Editions' ten finalists in the first year of their $5,000 competition, and already, a strange precedent has been set: Ms. Vanderbilt couldn't decide between the top two in the $3,000 Emerging Writer category - Frank Westcott and Silvia Moreno-Garcia - so she called it a tie and gave them both top money, while still giving Ken Stange his $2,000 for best among writers at any stage of a career. Westcott's story, "The Poet," opens the collection, and it's a detailed account of a poet being interviewed while lusting after the interviewer; Moreno-Garcia's story, "Scales as Pale as Moonlight," takes a more mythical tack, intertwining a family story with a legend in a way reminiscent of Nino Ricci's Lives of the Saints. For his part, Stange's story, "The Heart of a Rat," is a creepy and exciting story about rival professors performing transplants and competing for a woman. To its great credit, the group is varied, and puts the more lyrical - Rishma Dunlop's "Paris" - alongside the more classically Canadian realist, from Leigh Nash's "The Field Trip" to frequent Canadian writing contest winner Zoe Stikeman's "Single-celled Amoeba." My favourite story may have been none of the above, though: Kristi-Ly Green's "The Patient" depicts doctors indifferent to their jobs, which makes for a story like none I've read before. And though I didn't love all 10, what makes this collection valuable is that the stories are truly diverse; everyone won't like everything, but there's definitely some talent here.

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