Real short fiction

CN&R readers take on the 59-word challenge

Fiction 59 judges: The 1078 Gallery Literary Committee (clockwise from center): Angela Youngblood, Muir Hughes, Hilary Tellesen, Kathleen McPartland and Jeff Hull. Visit <a href="http://www.1078gallery.org/">www.1078gallery.org</a> for info on upcoming literary events.

Fiction 59 judges: The 1078 Gallery Literary Committee (clockwise from center): Angela Youngblood, Muir Hughes, Hilary Tellesen, Kathleen McPartland and Jeff Hull. Visit www.1078gallery.org for info on upcoming literary events.

Live fiction:
Hear these stories come to life as the winners and honorable mentions (all are invited!) read them aloud tonight (Thursday), Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m., at The Bookstore (118 Main St.).

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” Though often taken out of its Shakespearean context to meet the needs of writing teachers (and short-fiction writing contests), those wise words from Hamlet's notoriously verbose Polonius are at the heart of this Fiction 59 writing contest. And the Chico News & Review realizes how much of a challenge it is to chop away all the extra “limbs and outward flourishes” and tell a story in so few words.

This year, we once again brought in the experts—the 1078 Gallery's literary committee—to sort through the hundreds of submissions and choose the winners and honorable mentions. The CN&R turns the stories over with names stripped away to ensure unbiased consideration. Then comes the task of counting the words and ultimately cutting entries that don't add up to 59 exactly. Unfortunately, as happens every year, many excellent submissions had to be discarded. The most common culprit was the almighty hyphen (as we point out in the rules: “one-stop shop” would count as three words, not two).

But most submissions were right at 59 words, and we have a lot of great ones. As the committee said in a statement about this year's judging: “We read a vivid harvest from writers in our community. There were many dynamic and lyrical entries, and it is always a tough call to place these writers, just as it is a joy and honor to read the submissions. We looked for a meaningful story, lyricism and form as we read the submissions.”

We thank our judges as well as all of the those who sent us their stories. This issue is for you.