Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hooray for the Washington Post and Its Fiction Contest!

As a regular (perhaps obsessive) newspaper reader, I generally say “hooray” for the Washington Post anyway. But I’m especially pleased that they annually feature fiction in their Sunday Magazine section.

Sunday’s paper brought us the juicy Valentine’s Day fiction issue, found online here, with love stories by Stuart Dybek, Julie Orringer, Julia Alvarez, and Walter Kirn. As a twist, each author was sent a photograph and was asked to create a story based on that image. I was especially taken with Julie Orringer’s “Ask for Pain.” (Never the cheerful ones for me, eh?)

The Post also conducts an annual contest, again for a story based on a photo. To see the photo, and find out the (easy) rules for the next contest, you can go here. (I do mean easy: 1500 words or less; you have until May 1 to enter; and you don’t even need a stamp….so get busy already!)

The winning story from the last competition was published here: “Love Is Kryptonite,” by Dean Hebert, and I loved it. It’s a short-short (no more than 1500 words), and I was impressed at the complicated poignancy expressed so beautifully in such a small landscape. Here’s a taste to get you to click over and read the piece:

“So, what do you do if you’re Superman,* and you love Lois, but she’s already found herself a great guy and married him? The smart thing would be to keep your mouth shut. I wasn’t that smart. I told her that I loved her.”

*Note: The narrator is speaking metaphorically here…this story isn’t literally about Superman…whew!

If you’re more patient than I am, after you've read the story, please register and leave a comment for the writer…I thought some of those nitwits commenting on the piece seemed like they wouldn't know a story from a starfish. Alas, it’s a cumbersome process just to register to comment, and I couldn’t deal with it. I guess I’m hoping the author comes across my admiring comments during a bout of late-night self-googling!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.