From the press release:
The judges – Elizabeth Knox, Bill Manhire and Emily Perkins – comment that both winning stories ‘deal with difficult things and find their way to various kinds of human decency’.
Of Lawrence Patchett’s long story: ‘This remarkable—apparently artless, apparently old-fashioned—story strikes a quiet new note in New Zealand fiction. “The Road to Tokomairiro” shows us how ordinary human fortitude and decency can be, even in the most troubled circumstances. The story has moral seriousness, but feels “lighter” than its subject matter, perhaps because it is so beautifully and sympathetically written.’
Of Kirsten McDougall’s short story: ‘“Clean Hands Save Lives” is about how families work; it’s about generational power struggle; it’s about how to be a functioning mother. There’s lovely pacing, and yet we get a real story, not just a quick sketch of family dynamics—and there’s also a nice sense of comic circularity (the snake with its tail in its mouth) courtesy of some supermarket biscuits.’
The stories are published, along with four highly commended stories – ‘Anchorage’ by Sylvie Thomson and ‘When We Were Bread’ by Anna Jackson in the long division, and ‘The Orienteer’ by Rachel O’Neill and ‘The Waikato Farmers’ by Craig Cliff in the short division – in The Long and the Short of It, which is available from Unity Books, RRP $20.
My story is inspired by this story from the Waikato Times; or more correctly, the farmers in my story seem to have been inspired/corrupted by the story in the news.
The wordcount is exactly 1000, counting the title. So yeah, just squeaked in.
There’s a grand event (or a "petit finale" according to @FergusVUP) at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, Sunday 15 May, 5.00-6.15pm. The two winners will read from their stories and be interviewed by Emily Perkins. It’s free and all are welcome. Unfortunately I’ll be checking in at the airport for my flight to Sydney at that time (my first Sydney Writers’ Festival event is in the Blue Mountains on Monday morning). Excitement.
Aucklanders can still come and see me do my thang at these two Auckland events:
Emerging Writers session, with Hamish Clayton and Tina Makereti, Saturday 14 May at 1pm (FREE!!)
Commonwealth Writers Prize session, with David Mitchell and Aminatta Forna, Sunday 15 May at 1pm (ALSO FREE!!!!)
Okay, enough spruiking. I'm off to further pare back the wordcounts and whip up a 150 word short short story for the BNZ Literary Awards. Entries close 16 May.
5 Hours Later...
I have written one 150 word story, as well as a few things that turned out to be poems. I also went for a walk and when I got back there was a copy of Sport 39 and several copies of the Long and the Short of It book. Score!
That's my plane reading sorted for tomorrow!