Here's the video of The Story Prize event on March 8 at The New School. That night, the three finalists—Rick Bass, Anna Noyes, and Helen Maryles Shankman—read from and discussed their work on-stage. And at the culmination of the event, we announced the winner for books published in 2016: Rick Bass's For a Little While.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017
|Finalists Rick Bass, Helen Maryles Shankman, and Anna Noyes |
(photo @ Beowulf Sheehan)
The San Francisco Chronicle
Poets & Writers
|© Beowulf Sheehan|
“The stories in They Were Like Family to Me are connected around the Polish town of Włodawa, which the Nazis occupied during World War II. The stories dance around Reich Regional Commissioner Reinhart, the bureaucrat who has a taste for the finer things and is willing to protect his most talented Jews. The author weaves in Jewish folktales, making them seem like family legends. Several of the incidents, like the merchants forced to do jumping jacks for the amusement of Nazi guards, appear in several of the stories. And minor characters in one story take center stage in the other. There’s no question that Helen Maryles Shankman had my attention in the first story, when the brutal Nazi officer Max Haas hires a Jewish man to paint his apartment, only to realize the man is the illustrator of his child’s favorite children’s book. At one point, I gasped and had to talk about the story to just about anyone I came in contact with for the rest of the day. I couldn’t help it. And I loved the classic way that the Reinhart character plays at the periphery of so many stories before we finally get his perspective.”
Friday, March 10, 2017
|© Beowulf Sheehan|
"All the women in this book are beautiful, even when they aren’t. In their femaleness, they so overwhelm the men that you can almost smell and touch and hear their yearning, their disappointment, their recognition that “it will be all right” (in most cases) even when it probably won’t. As with the great mistresses of the short story—Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro—each story is structured to invisibilize the structure itself, so that as a reader you end up drinking in a series of raw feelings hung terribly on the balloon structure of the Goodnight, Beautiful Women’s home."
|© Beowulf Sheehan|
“Rick Bass’s gift at conveying the vastness of the American wilderness through a form as compact as the short story is a cause for wonder. Again and again in this collection his stories demonstrate the form’s elasticity and expansiveness, its ability to evoke greatness of scale and time using little more than the seemingly modest tools of close observation, clear language, and rich sensory detail. His characters are forged in the fire of extremes: loggers, boxers, dog trainers, competitive runners, and horse breakers, they experience extreme weather and terrain, extreme solitude and loss, as well as moments of intense, transformative connection. Sentence by sentence, story by story, he does the patient, passionate work of awakening his readers to the innate wildness, mystery, and beauty of the world, and of the people who inhabit it.”
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
The other finalists this year were authors Anna Noyes for Goodnight, Beautiful Women (Grove Press) and Helen Maryles Shankman for They Were Like Family to Us (Scribner). At the event at The New School, all three finalists read from and discussed their work on-stage. As runners-up, Noyes and Shankman each received $5,000.
In the days and weeks to come, we'll post the judges' citations for the three books, photos from the event and after party, and a link to the video.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The Story Prize event is only a few weeks away, on March 8, at The New School's auditorium at 66 W. 12 St., home of our co-sponsor, The New School Creative Writing Program. That night, finalists Rick Bass, Anna Noyes, and Helen Maryles Shankman will read from their work and discuss it onstage. Tickets are $14. Here's a peek at the front cover of the eight-page, color program we'll be passing out that night:
The design, which evokes the forests that play a part in all three books, is by Steven J. Charny.