Even during tumultuous times, there is joy in publishing writers of elective affinities, in bringing disparate forms into a relationship of reciprocal richness. This collection makes readers sometimes suffer and sometimes laugh, as in Aimee LaBrie’s winning story “Rage.”
As noted author and fiction judge A.J. Verdelle said of the prize-winning piece: As a story, Rage is softer than its title. Even given the harsh representations of rage in our current social context, the story still holds up and provokes reflection. The story speaks to the ways in which our professional choices and our daily lives can batter us and flummox us as we try to hew to social expectations. Ultimately, the story reveals how strong and intellectually compelling women can be. The story also covers how our society diminishes women’s work, and reduces women to objects of predation. At the same time as this story elevates big issues, the story makes fun of how we behave with each other. The anger and the humor in Rage are both real. A story that makes you laugh will always be a gem.
Honorable Mention is “Brothers in Arms” by Aisha Hassan. A.J. Verdelle stated, This story was weird, and atmospheric, sad and clouded with emotional and physical danger. The author created a miasma for its central character, and we readers had to live with her, however briefly, inside that thick fog of confusion and predation. An accomplishment in a short work of fiction, to trap the reader in the struggle and confusion, with the protagonist.
Also, our deep congratulations to the three Finalists: Tracy Robert’s “Inklings,” a novel excerpt with ironic, profound insights into male/female relationships; Jedah Mayberry’s “Weeks Away,” a tragic coming-of-age story of two black male youths dealing with girls; and Andrew Tonkovich’s “Metonymy,” a blistering, contemporary political satire.
And kudos to the Solstice Editors’ Picks: S.K. Brownell’s “Your Head is Older than Your Feet.” and Diane C. Kessler’s “Blindside.” At first, these two stories seem dramatically disparate. Brownell’s is a lyrical piece of a young woman falling for a gay man, while Kessler’s concerns a woman in a religious crisis for inadvertently killing her sister. Yet each story shows females coming up against themselves.
And here’s to the two Selected Stories, not contest entries, but chosen from among our regular submissions: Kevin St. Jarre’s “Chuligani” and Kari Middleton’s “Migration.” Both dramatize the transformations that can come from exposure to foreign cultures.
These are stories of transformation, love and death, and dark humor leading us to the light—elective affinities. Fine fiction can energize us and mobilize us to join with others, to affiliate, and to work for truth, even in these vital months ahead.
Lee Hope, Fiction Editor