Spinning of tales

Local writers prove once again they’re up to the Fiction 59 challenge

About Zu Vincent (in 59 words)
The characters in Zu Vincent’s novel The Lucky Place were first spotted in a short story she wrote as part of her long-running Christmas fiction series for Chico News & Review. The short story, about a girl’s love for her stepdad, grew into a novel but kept brevity at heart, as The Lucky Place is written in vignettes.

Each year, it seems, the entries for Fiction 59 get better and better. And when so many writers in Butte County and beyond take the time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys for something other than Facebook), it’s enough to renew our faith in the human imagination. Of course, we put a limit on that imagination—we rein it in, that is—by soliciting tiny, but loaded, morsels of fiction.

We thoroughly enjoyed reading this year’s entries—and we congratulate the teens, who turned out in force this year, nearly doubling the entries from last year and making it even tougher to judge.

As we’ve done the past few years, we enlisted the help of a professional guest judge. This time around, local author Zu Vincent was up to the challenge. For that, we thank her.

“As a writer, I’m amazed at how other writers manage to pull this off,” she said of her judging experience. “Tell a story in 59 words. In judging this year’s contest, not only the quality, but the sheer range of styles—from humor, nostalgia and irony, to poetic surprise—made choosing the winners hard. In the end, it came down to those that held the essence of story. However whittled and distilled, evocative language, character, struggle and honest emotions ring true. And this leaves readers, sometimes in as little as 59 words, with a magical something which lingers.”