February 7, 2012KR BlogNewsletter

Why We Chose It

By David Lynn, Editor

We thought we’d add Ron Carlson’s distinguished voice to the ongoing conversation of “Why We Chose It.” Ron was the final judge of the 2011 KR Short Fiction Contest, and the winner and runners-up appear in the current, Winter 2012 issue of The Kenyon Review as well as on KROnline.

Selecting contest winners is not exactly the same as making editorial decisions—but there are obvious overlaps. Ron’s many years as a teacher of writing as well as practitioner of the highest order provide wonderful insight into how these very short stories work and what makes them individually wonderful.

As you’ll see elsewhere in this newsletter, the 2012 Short Fiction Prize is currently accepting entries through the month of February. We’ve done away with the age restriction, and ask only that contestants will not yet have published a full book of fiction.

Ron Carlson’s Judging Notes:

Fan Li “Chiasmus”—This story dances along its deft surface, a mother keeping track of her son’s travels with a lovely curiosity, which slowly gathers into the long submerged concern about their history. This story has heart and it reveals a talented writer with an understanding of language and pace and family and how to do a great deal in a small space.

Anna Kovatcheva “September”—I haven’t seen September 11 opened this way with a surprising speculation which is at once dire and capturing. The writer brings a muscular imagination and a willingness to experiment to the very microsecond the world changed; and the writer understands that love can give value to harm.

Nichols Ford Malick “The Boy in the Lake”—This focused scene is worrisome and visceral from the very moment we first hear of yesterday’s accident and the writer spirals us closer and closer to the things we fear most. The writer does a terrific job establishing a credible and concerned young person’s point of view.