Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reading Journal: Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology, Vol. 2, ed. Gloria Vanderbilt (2012)

Twelve new stories from this year's Exile magazine competition, including "Mercy" by some guy you might be reading right now. The purse is divided into two prizes - $3,000 for best story by an emerging writer, $2,000 for the winning established writer - and as in the first year the prize was awarded in Canada, the final judge's indecision and generosity doubled one prize and named co-winners. The winning established writers include Leon Rooke's "Here Comes Henrietta Armani," a brilliantly-structured story of a very odd woman like only he can write - very much form over content - and Sean Virgo's bewitching modern fairy tale, "Gramarye." Emerging writer winner Christine Miscione's "Skin, Just" is a musical lightning-strike of a story, about discovering a mole one believes to be cancerous, and a more than worthy winner. Other highlights? Amy Stuart's "The Roundness," (which won the 2011 Writers' Union of Canada Short Prose Competition, too), about giving up the baby in a teenage pregnancy; Kris Bertin's gritty "Tom Stone & Co.," about a bouncer who moonlights for his father-in-law's trash removal business; Martha Batiz's "The Last Confession," about emigrating after being a Latin American political prisoner, and Jacqueline Windh's "The Night the Floor Jumped," a lively account of being trapped by earthquake debris in which, though not a lot can "happen" in the static situation, every sentence keeps moving, leanly and declaratively, to make for an exciting piece. I liked almost every story in this collection, and it's an honour to be published alongside this varied group of talented Canadian writers.

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