Monday, July 25, 2011

From Today's eBag

Hi Mr. Literary Rejection: Just thought you might wanna know, I received a copy of the latest Bellingham Review (didn't win anything last year, didn't even place) and I read Jacob Appel's "Bait and Switch" which won the Tobias Wolff Award in 2010. Honestly, I was unimpressed. Depressingly this was a rather pedestrian piece of short fiction. Think Judy Blume's "Summer Sisters" meets early Neil Simon only much duller. I don't even think it would have made it into one of the many short story anthologies I had to plow through in college as a liberal arts undergrad. I think this short story winner sort of re-affirms my suspicion that the whole literary anthology awards thing is just a shell game for MFA candidates and other suckers. Sincerely, [Name Redacted--We're anonymous around here]
p.s. I kind of liked Appel's piece.  What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Appel's writing is good, solid. The first paragraph, especially, is well written. The story might, at times, veer into familar situations. When I read it, I kept thinking of Yann Martell's Beatrice and Virgil, but it lacked that novella's kick. Still, it's a good piece of fiction.

The short story anthologies one reads in college are usually comprised of "classics," or "contemporary classics." It might be unfair to judge any journal story (even an award winner) against stuch standards. Must every film new in release compare favorably to Hitchcock or Orson Welles?

Appel's story was judged the best of all the stories submitted for that particular contest. My guess is that the estates of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Checkov, O'Connor (Frank & Flannery) failed to enter that particular contest.

Laura Maylene said...

If I read the note correctly, then the complaint about Appel's story was sent by someone who entered the same contest and didn't place, so I imagine he or she is predisposed to finding fault with the winning piece.

If you don't like it, then fine. But to send a complaint to LROD and make it public indicates that this person is hoping others will chime in and say how much they disliked the story, as well...and subsequently make the writer who lost contest feel validated.

I've lost many writing contests, but I can't say I've ever had the urge to publicly complain about the winner, even if anonymously. Just saying.