The Write Stuff

The News & Review’s short story contest drew a whopping 600 entries. For the pick of the literary, read on…

The pages of the SN&R are always filled with reported stories of non-fiction journalism. Not so this week, as we bring you two homegrown, creative works of straight-ahead fiction—stories from two local authors who placed first and second in our SN&R Short Story Contest 2001.

We were surprised, at first, that our judges (See below) picked two stories that emanate from a part of the world so far flung from the Sacramento region. Indeed, some of us were even hoping one of the winning stories might be set right here in River City. But then we reconsidered. After all, it’s the very point of fiction to take us places we’ve never been before and introduce us to people we’re not likely to meet otherwise. Why read Moby Dick? Because it takes us someplace new.

In “Your Last Chance Texaco,” a junkman watches his grandson struggle with his sense of worth because the young man comes from a poor family. In “The World’s Largest Ball of Bras,” a young narrator comes of age in the small southern town of Le Jeune. Both stories are refreshing, creative and serve to remind us (as only good fiction can) of the fragile and special nature of each human life. Read and enjoy.

The winners
First Place: “Your Last Chance Texaco” by Danielle Newton

Second Place: “The World’s Largest Ball of Bras” by Eve West Bessier

Honorable Mention: “Why I Am Still A Jew” by S.E. Gilman

Honorable Mention: “The Way A Woman Eats” by Eve Imagine

The judges
Kim Stanley Robinson is an award-winning author of fiction and science fiction. He lived in Washington D.C. and Switzerland before settling into the Village Homes solar community in Davis. Robinson wrote a trio of futuristic novels set in California (The Gold Coast, Pacific Edge, and The Wild Shore) but is probably best known for his sweeping Mars trilogy, published in the ’90s as Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. He is a winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. His recent books include Antarctica, Escape from Kathmandu, and The Martians.

Todd Walton is a former Sacramentan and well-known fiction and non-fiction writer now living in Berkeley, California. A regular contributor to the Sacramento News & Review during its early years, Walton is a musician, composer, performer, editor, and gardener. His latest book, The Writers Path, is a compendium of innovative writing exercises that he has invented for writers of all ages and levels of experience. His novels include Inside Moves, which was made into a motion picture, Forgotten Impulses, Louie & Women, Night Train, and Ruby & Spear. Walton’s fable, Of Water and Melons, was published by West Sacramento’s Red Wing Press in 1999. He is currently at work on a collection of Buddhist short stories.

Sands Hall holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a second MFA in theatre arts from the university of Iowa. The paperback of her popular novel Catching Heaven, has just been published in a Ballantine Reader’s Circle Edition. Her acclaimed play Fair Use was recently produced by the Foothill Theatre Company in Nevada City. Hall teaches creative writing at UC Davis Extension, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.