I grew into a writer as an admirer of Ann Beattie’s astringent, generous short fiction. Here’s a recent NY Times interview.
In the meantime, here is a list of her most-loved short stories with, indeed, some of my favourites among them:
“What are your all-time favorite short stories?
Among them: “Twilight of the Superheroes” and “Your Duck Is My Duck,” by Deborah Eisenberg; “Way Down Deep in the Jungle,” by Thom Jones; “Oxygen,” by Ron Carlson; “Nettles” and “The Albanian Virgin,” by Alice Munro; “The Fat Girl,” by Andre Dubus; “We Didn’t,” by Stuart Dybek; “Tits-Up in a Ditch,” by Annie Proulx; “Bruns,” by Norman Rush; “Escapes,” by Joy Williams; “Yours,” by Mary Robison; “The Dog of the Marriage,” by Amy Hempel; “The Fireman’s Wife,” by Richard Bausch; “The Womanizer,” by Richard Ford; “Helping,” by Robert Stone; “No Place for You, My Love,” by Eudora Welty; “Are These Actual Miles,” by Raymond Carver; “People Like That Are The Only People Here,” by Lorrie Moore; “Last Night,” by James Salter; “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story,” by Russell Banks; “Hunters in the Snow,” by Tobias Wolff; Rebecca Lee’s collection, “Bobcat.””
from ‘Wolf Lake’ by Michael V Smith and E. Bachinsky
I stay too often in my own head with my praise for fellow writers. This film Michael V Smith made from Elizabeth Bachinsky’s powerful poem “Wolf Lake” is one of those lapses. This terrifying narrative never really left me after I saw/heard it the first time, and then today when I started to build a story from similar circumstances, I felt it again, the blunt blow to the heart, and wanted to share it.
It is on Elizabeth’s home page. Scroll down.
photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2015
A grand-babe joined the family in 2015 (6 months as I write). I especially love my regained joy of being up close to someone developing capabilities, interests and language–especially language. I delighted in this with my own children and getting another chance to observe it is luck past measure. Watching the baby scrutinize my mouth to see how shapes are formed makes me wish I was more fluent in foreign languages; watching her mimic them is intriguing. I have a friend whose family used German, English and French interchangeably when she was young; she soaked it up; it was years before she realized they were separate languages. G-baby could be the same with a multi-lingual mom. She’s 6 months and she’s said intelligible things for quite a while now–she’s conquered “Mommy” and “Amma” for the long term, and remains rivetted by sound (and, incidentally, texture). I adore observing her setting goals–language goals and movement goals the most visible–and seeing her work concertedly to realize them.
The other almost accidental by-product of the g-baby’s birth is that I have gotten to spend winsome, celebratory time with my daughter. Getting to see her expand into her new role and love is a dream I didn’t know I had. I have been proud at her for many things in our 37 years together, but never moreso than watching her ace this hardest job going.
This time around, I barely saw my step g-baby, but we got some time where she pretty much pulverized me with tickles and swimming play before she flew off to the east. Razor-sharp, strong, talented girl who owns a big chunk of my heart.
Just by way of throwing something literary in here:
I had a book-baby in 2014 (Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes), now my daughter has brought forth this astonishing human book in 2015 (g-baby will slowly fill its blank pages), and, upcoming in 2016, my novel Weekend.
chick with docked beak
I entered this competition on the off-chance hope of having George Saunders read my work–as a lark, in other words. The good news was just announced–I won for fiction, and Michael Prior won for poetry. Congrats, Michael. I’m grateful to Lit Pop and the judges, and most of all, to George Saunders for his generosity in choosing my piece “Battery,” a hybrid fiction/cnf work, and for his great comments.
“George Saunders says congratulations and:
I admired and enjoyed the wit, clarity, and compression of this story. It’s fast, funny, precise in its language. The author is really using language as a tool of persuasion. The story also has real heart – the narrator manages to make us sympathize for both chickens and executioners. The details of the operation are chilling and terrific. The story is beautifully shaped and minimal – the writer seems to recognize that the essence of making a work of art is choosing. The story makes us face a certain harsh truth, but without any sense of preaching, and even a sense of wonder. Above all, the story is musical – it zings along, making a world as it goes, with its confidence and its sense of curiosity.”
The piece is a story about a newborn chick in a factory farm as it has its beak docked. It is routine for chicks to have one-third of their beaks amputated without anesthetic. It would be stellar if this piece could play some small part in erradicating the torture-chambers that are factory farms.
George Saunders’ most recent book, Tenth of December (stories), was published in 2014, was a National Book Award finalist, and was named one of the best books of the year by People, The New York Times Magazine, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, New York, The Telegraph, BuzzFeed, Kirkus Reviews, BookPage, and Shelf Awareness. He is also the author of Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, both New York Times Notable Books, and The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, a New York Times children’s bestseller. In 2000, The New Yorker named him one of the “Best Writers Under 40.” He writes regularly for The New Yorker and Harper’s, as well as Esquire, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. He won a National Magazine Award for Fiction in 2004 and his work is included in Best American Short Stories 2005. He teaches at Syracuse University.
“It is with great pleasure that we announce the shortlist for the 2015 Bristol Short Story Prize. The 20 stories on the list will be published in the 8th Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology and are in the running for the £1,000 first prize. As in previous years we have been extremely fortunate to work with a fantastic panel of judges – we raise a glass and give thanks to the mighty Sara Davies, Rowan Lawton, Sanjida O’Connell and Nikesh Shukla for their extraordinary conscientiousness and enthusiasm, and for putting together what will be a wonderful anthology.
Chair of the judging panel and former BBC Radio 4 producer, Sara Davies, says:
“This year once again there were nearly two and a half thousand entries to the competition: a fantastic response, and a huge task for the readers who between them drew up a longlist of forty varied, challenging, wide-ranging and moving stories. They did a brilliant job; all forty were exciting to read, and deciding on just twenty for the shortlist was far from easy.
“One of the biggest pleasures in reading the longlist was the global spread of the entries: stories had come in from all over the English-speaking world, and their subjects ranged from the small and seemingly domestic to the big issues around political upheaval, immigration and war. There was much to admire, and much to enjoy, and we deliberated long and hard about which twenty we felt should go forward. We looked for those stories that stayed with us after reading, that we could return to with pleasure, and that rewarded close attention. Our commiserations go to those disappointed longlisted writers who didn’t make it through to the shortlist; your stories made it through some tough competition and gave us a lot of pleasure. Our congratulations to those twenty who will be published in the 8th Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology; we were really excited to find such a range of storytelling talent. And a big thank you to every writer of the two and a half thousand who entered; keep writing those stories and send them in next year!”
The winner of the 2015 Bristol Short Story Prize will be announced at our awards ceremony in October. The 2nd and 3rd place prize winners will also be revealed on the night and the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 8 will be launched.”
2015 Bristol Short Story Prize shortlist (listed A-Z by author)
The Plait – Michael Bird (Romania)
A Tough New Policy at the Food Pantry – Lisa K Buchanan (USA)
Magpie – Gina Challen (England)
Justice – Florence Delaney (England)
Just After We Stopped Talking – Chris Edwards-Pritchard (England)
The River of Running Sand – Jane Eaton Hamilton (Canada)
Airtight – Mark Illis (England)
Between the Pickles – J.R. McConvey (Canada)
Stafford Street – Riona Judge McCormack (South Africa)
Birthday Bones – Magdalena McGuire (Australia)
The Ice Ages – Paul McMichael (Ireland)
Black Lines – Fiona Mitchell (England)
The Guest House – Candy Neubert (England)
House of Doors – P.K.Read (France)
Marbles – Penny Simpson (Wales)
The Changeling – Emma Staughton (England)
Flowers – Emma Timpany (England)
A Week on the Water – Brent van Staalduinen (Canada)
Natural Order – Alison Wray (England)
The Zoo – Jeremy Charles Yang (England)
sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014
So glad to be in fine company on the short list for 2015’s Lit Pop in Montreal, sponsored by Matrix magazine. Thanks, George Saunders.
LIT POP SHORTLIST ANNOUNCEMENT
POP Montreal and Matrix Magazine are pleased to announce the 2015 shortlists:
André Babyn of Toronto, ON
Jill Talbot of Gabriola Island, BC
Marina Mularz of Crystal Lake, IL
Jane Eaton Hamilton of Vancouver, BC
Felipe Torres Medina of New York, NY
Kasandra Larsen of New Orleans, LA
Jennifer Lovegrove of Toronto, ON
Rebecca Salazar of Fredericton, NB
Aimee Herman of New York, NY
Michael Prior of Ithica, NY
The winners will be announced on Monday, August 3rd, 2015
About our judges:
George Saunders’s most recent book, Tenth of December (stories), was published in 2014, was a National Book Award finalist, and was named one of the best books of the year by People, The New York Times Magazine, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, New York, The Telegraph, BuzzFeed, Kirkus Reviews, BookPage, and Shelf Awareness. He is also the author of Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, both New York Times Notable Books, and The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, a New York Times children’s bestseller. In 2000, The New Yorker named him one of the “Best Writers Under 40.” He writes regularly for The New Yorker and Harper’s, as well as Esquire, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. He won a National Magazine Award for Fiction in 2004 and his work is included in Best American Short Stories 2005. He teaches at Syracuse University.
Originally from the Detroit area, Damian Rogers now lives in Toronto where she works as the poetry editor of both House of Anansi Press and The Walrus, and as the creative director of Poetry in Voice, a national recitation contest for Canadian high-school students. Her first book of poems, Paper Radio, was nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award.
My little thorn
you have grown on a thicker stalk
than I expected.
than I ever guessed you might.
You hurt me.
Nothing is as simple as that.
I hurt you too?
There are lotteries.
Your unlucky numbers tumble through
a bin of teenage years.
I never meant
to speak and so offend you,
to be a mother
to cringe from
and yet you say I am.
I remember before breasts and boys.
We were happy.
We lay together
in a moon crater,
swaddled and safe and bouncing.
Tall branched thistle
you were my baby,
my sweet girl,
the coup of all my days.
I am no longer
Precisely human in your eyes,
only old and big.
You come to me with scorn
that rubs like sandpaper.
The trick is
to bear this jagged war
The trick is to wear
Being with her was like dipping my brain in spun sugar. She was anything delicious along the red bumpy taste buds of my tongue, melting savory, melting sweet, explosions of colour along the neural pathways of my waxy brain. Think of penny candies from childhood: Wagon Wheels, BB Bats, Jelly Babies, Lick ‘Em Aid, Jujubes, Red Hots, Jawbreakers. She was my candy shop, and I stood before her with dirty fingernails, sweating palms, scabbed knees, clenched pennies, short, the top of my scruffy head barely even with the counter, vibrating with excitement.
Chemical soup, hormonal stew, a body that was hungry for her beautiful world.
I couldn’t just eat my fill, feel sated and then not go back for more because I didn’t have a bad tummy ache, I didn’t regret it, I didn’t gain weight, I didn’t have sugar shock or brain freeze.
The melting, sticky, goo-gawing emotion that causes dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin to jig-jag into your body, warm, wet and frothing, is supposed to be temporary, and then the relationship devolves or evolves into more reasonable, adult, companionable territory. But they weren’t temporary.
All those years, her arms were open. I ran into them like a dancer from across a wide stage, launching myself spread-hearted into the air, believing she would catch me.
I’m delighted to be included in Carin Makuz’s ‘The Litter I See’ Project to support literacy and Frontier College. Carin sent me my little bit of litter to spin from. My piece ‘The Problem of the Fry’ is up today. It’s a flash fiction about Vancouver’s work to reclaim city streams for spawning salmon.
It is Canada Day, also known as Turtle Island Day. There is a Truth and Reconciliation Report, and we are glad, but no inquiry, still, on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
There’s a new litmag in town called Wordpeace from writer and editor Lori Derosiers. May we soon find peace in all corners of the world.
Lori included a poem of mine written during NaPoWri Mo in 2014. Turtle Island Day seems a good time to run it.
photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2006
Gail Anderson-Dargatz and I have known each other since she published her first book, ‘The Cure for Death by Lightning.’ She invited me to write a blog post on our favourite topic, the ins and outs of being writers. When you’re having a peak, notice she’s got blog posts up from many, many writers on all sorts of writerly topics.
“Losing the flow, for me, is a calamitous writer’s block.” Jane Eaton Hamilton