Friday, December 10, 2010

Short stories and glory

by Lauren

Twice this week, I spent my evenings at Symphony Space, soaking in culture at some great literary events. On Monday, I was lucky enough to see Emma Donoghue for the second time—rather than doing a reading, this time she was discussing the fabulous Room with Michael Cunningham. Then on Wednesday, Jim and I went to the Selected Shorts program’s evening with Colum McCann, who I’ve also had the privilege of seeing before. If you feel about Let the Great World Spin and McCann’s work in general as we do, you’ll be happy to hear that the series is actually recorded for radio broadcast, so you can listen to it here. On this particular night, Colum McCann hosted Amy Ryan reading his story “Everything in This Country Must” (from the collection of the same name that first introduced me to one of my favorite writers!), Mary-Louise Parker reading “(She Owns) Every Thing” by Anne Enright, and Michael Cerveris reading Nathan Englander’s “Free Fruit for War Widows.” It was a phenomenal performance all around, and I think I’ll be attending far more of these events in the future. As Jim said, Mary-Louise Parker should read everything.

Tucked into the program I found a flyer for the Selected Shorts Writing Contest, which I thought might be right for some of you. The 2011 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize with guest judge Jennifer Egan will result in a $1000 prize for the winner, whose story will be read as part of a Selected Shorts performance and recorded for possible broadcast. Plus Jennifer Egan saying you’re worthy is no small thing in itself. The deadline is March 1st, and you can read the rules here. Anyone planning to submit? If so, good luck!


  1. Oh, Colum McCann and Emma Donaghue and Michael Cunningham: sigh. Wish I could have been there.

    I am going to give the short story contest a shot. Restaurant and Bars, I think I have some ideas brewing already.

  2. That short-story contest has a $25 fee.

    That means with only 40 entries they will make back their measly $1,000 prize. Now that you've shilled for them on your highly respected website, how many entries do you think they'll get?

    As Victoria Strauss would remind us, real authors get paid for their work; they do not pay other people to read their work. A contest that makes a profit after 40 entries is not a job for writers; it's a cash cow for the contest holders.

  3. For example, Writer's Beware is talking about whether or not the Brit Writer's Contest is a scam. It has an entry fee of 11 pounds, but the payoff is 10,000 pounds.

    That's a pay-back of 1,000 to one, and its still an open question whether the contest is on the level or not. For a contest with a pay-back of 40-1... well, you do the math. (Wait. I just did the math for you.)

    I highly recommend perusing before you make a decision.

  4. I hadn't noticed an entrance fee, so thanks for pointing that out, MCPlanck! I don't think that's necessarily the key factor in whether or not something is worth participating in (or a scam), but it's certainly something authors should take into consideration. -Lauren

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