Monday, May 03, 2010

Book Giveaway!

Journals love it when you've read the journal before submitting your story.  It's better all around because you're more likely to know what the magazine does and doesn't publish and so you don't waste your time, or theirs, sending your gritty urban story to a place that really only likes lyrical pieces influenced by nature.

This is where I come in.  I'm swimming in literary journal back copies, and I plan to share the wealth with a lucky follower chosen at random.  The winner will get a boxed assortment of journal back copies (all from within the past four years) mailed to your door!  Or, to be more specific, any door in the United States specified by the winner.  I'll even let you request titles if I have them.

How to enter:
  1. Become a follower of the blog. (See the sidebar)
  2. Leave a comment to this blog post with the title of your favorite short story and (if you remember) where you read it (physically or the name of the journal/collection, etc).
  3. (optional) Post and/or Tweet about my contest and leave a link to your blog and/or twitter feed in your comment.
That's it! I'll contact the winner on May 17 (14 days from the posting of this contest) for their US mailing address.
(picture is a sample of the magazines lying around my apartment, not necessarily the prize package ... though I suppose it could be if you wanted)

To get things started I'll tell you some of my favorite short stories and my memories of reading them.

The short story that has perhaps stuck with me the longest is "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula Le Guin. We read it in Ms. Hall's 11th Grade English and it left something in me that I don't think any other story had left with me before. It's the same feeling that tells me I need to know what's going on in the world even if I'm not a world player, and I need to do my part even if my part won't have a noticeable effect.

"Where Are You Going Where Have You Been" by Joyce Carol Oates wins my award for creepiest damn story ever. Poe has nothing on this woman. This story gave me nightmares and I was 21 when I read it and I really shouldn't have been getting nightmares from fiction at that point. Then a few months later my father got all nostalgic and wanted to go to an A&W drive in and he couldn't figure out why I was all sorts of creeped out.

One of my favorite fun stories (because this list needs some fun right about now) is "Two Twenty Two" by Baird Harper that I first read in the Mid-American Review -- an issue that is in the mix for the contest if you're interested. There's a certain teenage irreverence to "Two Twenty Two" which reminds me of Joe Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned.

There was also "Cake" by Patrick Tobin which I first read in Best American Non-Required Reading, because -- duh -- the term non-required totally peaked my interest and well cake, who doesn't like cake? What I remember of the story was that I was in love with the author's use of numbered lists within the story.

I was lying on a blanket on the green lawn of Kenyon College one June when I first read "Boar Taint" by Bonnie Jo Campbell in an issue of The Kenyon Review. I started to read it because her contributor's note said she was from Michigan and I was like hey, I'm from Michigan too! I kept reading because the female character had grown up in Ann Arbor -- me too! -- but I finished reading with a whoa. It's a deceptively big story, and it would eventually anchor the end of her collection American Salvage.

Then there's "Remembrance Is Something Like a House," by Will Ludwigsen. I came across this story in the Interfictions 2 anthology and it remains the only short story to ever make me cry, it's that moving. (Recorded as a podcast here.)

I started this list thinking I'd write down just two stories ... but obviously I got carried away. Let me know your favorite short story (or poem! b/c we're equal opportunity here at Speak Coffee)!

Highly Recommended