For the 2019 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest, Aimee Parkison has selected The Book of Kane and Margaret by Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi.
For the 2019 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Contest, Shelley Jackson has selected The Town of Whispering Dolls by Susan Neville.
Famous Children and Famished Adults, by Evelyn Hampton, has won the 2018 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest. Evelyn Hampton is the author of Discomfort (Ellipsis Press) and The Aleatory Abyss (Publishing Genius).
Once Into the Night, by Aurelie Sheehan, has won the 2018 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Aurelie Sheehan is the author of two novels and three short story collections. Her work has appeared in Conjunctions, Mississippi Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and other journals. She teaches fiction at the University of Arizona.
Since I began teaching in the PhD Creative Writing Program at University of Utah 15 years ago, I have become increasingly aware of the explosions, fusions, and transformations of fictional forms. My colleagues and students are brilliantly innovative, and their work challenges me aesthetically, intellectually, ethically, spiritually, and emotionally.
The stories of Girls in the Grass emerged between 1977 and 1989, and the piece that made the invention or re-imagining of all others possible is not included. “Catch You Later” appeared in Ploughshares in 1987. It’s a simple story: a woman dumped by her boyfriend and dizzy on downers staggers into a restaurant, hoping for a glass of white wine and a moment’s peace.
In October 1989, Charles Stuart shot and killed his pregnant wife Carol and wounded himself after attending childbirth classes at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He claimed they’d been victims of a violent carjacking attempt as they drove through the mostly African American neighborhood of Roxbury. The shooter, he said, was a “black man with a raspy voice.”
Writing, like prayer, must be a daily practice. For almost thirty years I’ve kept what I once called a “Book of Wonders” and now, in my age of awe, refer to as “The Gospel of Grief & Grace & Gratitude.” I have no rules or purpose: my apocryphal gospel includes songs of loons and visions of owls, flowering saguaros, hungry grizzlies — the last words of my father’s last days — my sister Wendy playing Beethoven on our grandmother’s piano.
Finding horrific and complicated humanity inside of a simple stare down between a rat and an exterminator, philosophical treatises, even cracking open the words themselves and experimenting with the implications of their order.