Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Victoria Patterson: What The Story Prize Judges Had to Say

When the three judges for The Story Prize make their choices, they provide citations for the book or books they like best. This year's judges were author A.M. Homes, critic and blogger Carolyn Kellogg, and librarian Bill Kelly. Here's a citation for Victoria Patterson's Drift:
With a steady hand and a gimlet eye, Victoria Patterson proffers a surprising vision of a familiar world in her story collection, Drift. The very idea of a literary work of fiction set in notoriously materialistic Newport Beach, Calif., is perhaps one of the biggest surprises. But Patterson makes it work through skillful writing that shows us the gritty side of the glitz and deftly peels back the layers to reveal the inner core of characters struggling to fit in or to define themselves within a wealthy, vacuous, and sometimes toxic culture.

Part of the pleasure of reading this book is growing familiar and fond of the characters that appear throughout the connected stories, and I missed some of them the moment I finished the book. This is a deft, fully realized work of fiction made up of disparate parts that nonetheless cohere to reveal a complex world full of pain, regret, and no easy answers. It is an impressive accomplishment, a book of great depth and unquestionable authenticity.

photo © Eric Richards