November 22, 2012
On 16 October I posted a blog about how I’d just completed judging the Boroondara Literary Awards – open short story competition. In that blog I talked about the judging process and what makes a good short story. However, I wasn’t able to say much about the winners because it was all hush-hush until the official awards ceremony. Well, I’m just back from that Awards Ceremony so now I can say a little bit more about the entries, and congratulate the winners…
This year’s stories explored a broad range of topics. There were many stories of childhood (particularly coming-of-age stories) and also stories of growing old. Stories of war also featured, ranging from war-time stories to stories of veterans trying to fit in back at home. Important global and local issues that affect us all were also addressed, such as racism, refugee camps and climate change.
A short story competition wouldn’t be complete without touching on the classics of love and death — two incredibly strong emotional drivers that have the ability to create drama when crafted well. Entries also covered other classic genres, such as fantasy, science fiction and crime fiction.
There were also some stories that offered interesting points of view. One told from a tree’s perspective, another a statue, a house, a dog, a ‘simple’ man, and several entries told from a very young child’s perspective.
So, I’d like to congratulate…
The four highly commended stories:
- Double Glazing by Kate Rotherham, which took me on an emotional and difficult journey with the mother of an autistic child;
- The Angel by Amy Bisset, which offered a refreshing take on point of view, telling a well-crafted story from a statue’s perspective;
- Delivered by Sulari Gentill, about a young man who delivered the pink slips during war time (I loved the last sentence of the first paragraph, ‘After all, Gus Merriman delivered death’); and finally
- Fighting for Breath by Paul Threlfall, a story with an incredibly strong voice that followed a boxer turned New York taxi driver.
Another story was extremely close to a highly commended prize, so close I wanted to at least mention it. Two Bucks for Living by Jessica Lye was a touching story about a homeless man reunited with his daughter. This story simply needed professional editing for some craft elements to take it to the next level.
Now, on to the first, second and third prizes, plus the Boroondara Prize. These stories were all extremely different, yet each one was powerful in its own way.
The third prize goes to One Day in the Life of a Societal Corpse by Alexandra Coppinger. The writing in this piece is strong, atmospheric and in many ways daring. I’m a stickler for grammar and sentence structure, yet this story’s powerful one- and two-word sentences somehow work. The story gave a moving insight into a protagonist who’s struggling with life, and contemplating death.
The second prize goes to Something was Wrong by Michael Doyle. In this story, the writer has perfectly captured the voice of a five-year-old boy being led to a holocaust gas chamber with his mother. The reader can guess what’s going on, but the child doesn’t. The story is both well-written and touching, and as the highest placed entry from a Boroondara resident, it also wins the Boroondara Prize.
Finally, the first prize goes to what could be described as a more quirky story. While in many ways the language and sentence structure are ‘simple’, this is a perfect reflection of character and voice. Derek Pickle by Aaron Firth Donato is the story of an intellectually handicapped man whose caregiver, his grandmother, dies. Soon after her death Derek decides to go to his first concert, and because his grandmother always told him not to go anywhere without her, he takes her — her ashes, that is. He even makes sure to get her home on time for bed.
Congratulations again to all the winners and the other entrants. Keep writing, and it’s great to see we’ve got such strong writers in Australia.Comments Off