As a wordsmith of any experience will tell you, it's harder to write short than long--and the more you can do with little, the better at it you (probably) are. Though likely apocryphal, the story goes that Ernest Hemingway could break hearts with just six words: "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn." Crafting a six-word novel is extreme--and a little absurd--but telling a fully developed story in 101 words? That's a worthy challenge, and one that more than 170 Boise Weekly readers threw themselves into.
For the 12th year running, Boise Weekly is pleased to unveil the winners of the 2013 Fiction 101 Contest. From the poetic to the bizarre, the sentimental and sardonic, below you'll find the top three finishers, plus two honorable mentions and five judges' picks.
Special thanks go to our judges, who parsed through the entries over the course of a month--plus a rapid-fire adjudication session at BWHQ--and artist Erin Ruiz, whose brilliant work has illustrated the contest winners this year, and in several years past.
They say brevity is the soul of wit, and this introduction has already run more than twice as long as our 101-word mandate, so in signing off, we save our final thanks to those who submitted stories. Winners or no, they prove that you BW readers are a lyrical lot, which I guess must be why we get along so well.--Zach Hagadone
Executive director of the Idaho Humanities Council
Director of Literature at the Idaho Commission
on the Arts
Owner of Rediscovered Bookshop
Professor of English at Boise State University and award-winning author of Volt
Adjunct professor of English at Boise State University, author and former Idaho writer-in-residence
- Erin Ruiz
FIRST PLACE, $400JSP Jacobs, Huntington Beach, Calif.
"It Is True, I Loved Him"
In 1986, I was one of Andrew McCarthy's personal assistants. I went cross country skiing with him and peeled his oranges. He was trying to quit smoking then, so he was eating a lot of oranges. I'd peel two in advance, kept in sandwich bags inside my parka's fur-lined pocket.
"I know, right?" he'd say to someone important/lovely/both, citrus-scented breath puffing into the cold. He'd reach his hand backwards at me, wiggle his fingers (his signal for orange. Now). I'd remove one, flex my thumbs in its center, plop it into his palm. It would fall open like a moist bloom.
- Erin Ruiz
Nicole LeFavour, Boise
My mother was the jackalope queen of Challis sagebrush. When I was born, she carried me papoose-style laced in deer hide under a rabbit skin shade, hunted ducks and geese in the marshlands. In town, she wore a long knife on her belt, drank firefighters under the table at Bux bar. At home she met white tie missionaries on the bridge with her shotgun. She wrangled draft horses and ranch wives, fed my sister and me frogs' legs and liver, rare; finally lost us in a run away buggy incident, bee stung horse streaking through hay fields where the mustangs ran.
- Erin Ruiz
THIRD PLACE, $150
Cody Gittings, Boise
"The Hungriest Man on Earth"
Bellagio devours single engine airplanes. On stage beneath the Big Top, the crowd goes wild, yet Bellagio longs for something with more... substance.
He begins with his ex-wives' homes, consuming them chronologically, sparing no time to check for occupants. He doesn't mind the screaming, and crunching of bones.
His appetite swells. Before long, the landscape resembles a quiet sort of devastation; half-eaten buildings miming crooked teeth.
Unsatisfied, Bellagio lies on his back and weeps. There is food on other planets, surrounded by stars, he believes. There must be. A rusted crop duster stands idling in a field nearby.
Bellagio takes flight.