Friday, March 24, 2006

Sour Grapes for Breakfast

"I Hold You Harmless," a short story by August Tarrier, is the first place winner in the 2005 All-Story Short Fiction Contest. It's a story told from the pov of a female stalker. It's told almost 80% in summary. Here's the chart (green = summary, red = scene):

If you can't tell, I'm not very impressed. The narrator stalks and she obsesses. We stay in her head for the entire ride. She reads a field guide about birds and keeps some notes in a log. In the big 577-word scene, she enters the building where her ex-lover works and is at last face-to-face with him, but a bird flies into the room and prevents them from having any meaningful interaction. Then the stalker returns to stalking.

Even though I didn't enter the contest, it distresses me that the judge (I think it was Robert Olen Butler) couldn't find something better among the thousands of submissions. But I can taste the sour grapes on the back of my tongue. You be your own judge.