Fiction 59: Time-honored tradition

CN&R’s readers once again take the 59-word challenge

PHOTO courtesy of Robert Davidson

About the judge:
Robert Davidson is an associate professor of English at Chico State and an accomplished creative writer. In fact, next Thursday, March 15, at 7 p.m., he’ll be reading from and signing copies of his new book, a compilation of short stories titled The Farther Shore (Bear Star Press), at Lyon Books.

Here’s what he had to say about the judging experience:
The spectacular diversity of entries in this year’s Fiction 59 contest reminds us that restricted forms can liberate a writer, shaping the work but also opening it up. The quality at every level was remarkable. As I read, I looked for that pop that made me sit up and take notice. Most often it was in the language itself, carefully crafted, rather than the situation or storyline. The judging was done blindly. Congratulations to all the winners and enjoy the stories.

Every March, the CN&R challenges its readers to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and craft a work of fiction in exactly 59 words. And every March, we get flooded with entries from people far and near, young and old. This year is no different. In fact, it might represent one of the farthest-reaching contests in recent memory, with winning entries coming from all across Butte County and beyond. This year also represents a change in the categories—we went from having three to four age groups, in an effort to even out the playing field for the younger writers—and we think everyone did quite well.

For those curious about how the judging works, CN&R editors cull through all the entries and essentially make “the first cut,” offering the honor of choosing among the best of the best to a guest judge. This year, Robert Davidson got that honor, and for that we thank him.

As we’ve done in the past, the CN&R is partnering with Lyon Books and Learning Center in downtown Chico to offer prizes for the first-, second- and third-place winners in each category. In addition, all whose stories are printed within these pages are invited to read their stories during a reception Tuesday (March 13) at 7 p.m. at Lyon Books, 121 W. Fifth St.

Without any further ado, here is the best short, short fiction of 2012. Enjoy!