We are thrilled to announce guest judge Whitney Scharer’s choice of a Winner and a Runner-Up for the Solstice Magazine annual contest. We received at least one third more entries than in each of the last thirteen years, and we carefully read each piece before we sent six finalists to Whitney.
The Winner is The Tow Truck by Mark Cassidy. Whitney praised it for being “surprising, inventive, and a perfect example of what the story form should do.” Like us, Whitney found herself thinking about it long after reading it. We editors especially appreciated the story’s profound look into a gay relationship between two men in small-town cowboy country of the “wild” West. The author’s deft building up of tension leads us to a confrontation that is both inevitable and unexpected.
The Runner-up is How to Date a Drummer by Emma Wunsch. We greatly appreciated the experimental, fragmentary style and its ironic yet perceptive view of adolescents dealing not only with teen sexual attraction but also death and disability. The author’s skillful use of the seldom-used second person point of view stood out to us as well.
Three other stories were among the Finalists, which we are publishing: Puzzled by Kendall Klym, an ekphrastic work about obsession in love (within a lesbian couple) and art as played out through magical realism. Drunken Sour Cherries by Sofi Stambo, an Eastern European piece set in Bulgaria with a dry humor and experimental flair. Neither/Nor by Tom Williamson, a melancholy yet hopeful and lush story in which a non-binary person experiences deep loneliness until they find The One.
We are also proud to present our special Solstice Editors’ Picks, stories we feel deserved publication for their excellence: “Rent Asunder” by Anneliese Schultz; “The Movie Version of Your Life” by Emily Alice Katz; “Noir” by Garnett Cohen; and “Vocational Degrees” a novel excerpt by Jonathan Segol.
Our heartfelt thanks to Whitney Scharer, author of The Age of Light, for giving her time and selecting the winner and runner-up. Her book, the captivating story of photographer Lee Miller, her relationship with the surrealist Man Ray, and her transformation from muse to artist, is now available in paperback.
Judging this burgeoning national fiction contest would not have been possible without the expert collaboration of Brenda Sparks Prescott, co-editor-in-chief of Solstice Magazine and author of the new novel Home Front Lines. Together, we read each submission and chose the finalists as well as collaborated on the Editors’ Picks. Many thanks to Brenda for her acute critical powers and generosity.
And now we invite you to read a fabulous collection of stories, ranging widely in style, each of which are relevant to us and our culture.
Lee Hope, Fiction Co-Editor and Editor-in-Chief
Anjali Mitter Duva, Fiction Co-Editor