Fun things about this contest:
1). James Wood is a notorious crank and provocateur in the literary world. Whatever story he likes will be a mean new touchstone for his ideal future of English letters. He is A Brit running an American fiction contest, which ought to be good for a few laughs.
2). In addition to a copy of Wood's "How Fiction Works," the grand prize winner of this contest will be interviewed on NPR and their story will be read aloud for Dame Posterity.
3). You can enter as many submissions as you like. Close your eyes and imagine that poor NPR intern sifting through the thousands of entries that will roll in each day, drinking cup after cup of herbal tea while trying to find the best possible tale to represent the pinnacle of the fiction craft. Consider how popular "flash fiction" is these days and how many creative writing programs make you write these little stories as daily prompts to get your juices flowing. Every serious and amateur fiction writer in the country has ten or a hundred of these "three-minute fiction" stories lying around, and all these downtrodden writers are now encouraged to SUBMIT THEM ALL TO NPR THIS MONTH FOR A CHANCE AT SUDDEN LITERARY FAME. INBOX KABOOM!
4). From the official rules: "[stories may] not include any language or other content that is indecent, inappropriate, morally objectionable or otherwise unfit for dissemination or broadcast, as determined by the SPONSOR [NPR] in its discretion." Get ready for a funny story about a dog.
5). Wood likes Thomas Hardy, Graham Greene, Saul Bellow, Anton Chekhov, Peter Carey, and Dickens. Wood hates postmodernism and "hysterical realism."
Trying to win this contest will be like trying to seduce the deceased's grandmother at a Presbyterian funeral. She will be sad, sure, but she has already seen much of death and has deep convictions about how the world works. Try to find out what cologne was popular in 1937.
Posted by miracle on Mon, 22 Jun 2009 11:02:37 -0400 -- permanent link