“Darkroom, Daydream”—Matthew Hollett
Stylistically distinct from the other entries, Matthew Hollett successfully integrates the art of storytelling with his subject matter. Befitting the narrator’s interest in photography, Hollett parcels out his story into individual snapshots of time, each capturing a distinct moment in the young man’s exploits as a summer camp counsellor. Like the photos he carefully exposes to light to reveal their images, Hollett slowly exposes the narrator to new life experiences, each chronologically connected paragraph unhurriedly revealing his maturation.
“The Bath Lottery”—Eya Donald Greenland
In a story almost wholly dependent on atmosphere, Eya Donald Greenland’s war-ravaged landscape becomes as much a character as the exhausted women who wander its streets. To Greenland’s unsentimental eye, Leningrad is a city of empty bellies and downturned eyes, a harsh grey world where surviving each day is a triumph. As a trio of half-starved women struggles to endure, Greenland adroitly captures those all-too-fleeting moments of grace that drive humanity to continue on, even in the face of an unceasing nightmare.
Like a lustful Fight Club, Christine Miscione lays out the ups and downs of a misbegotten romance between a bewildered man and his manic pixie dream girl. As the narrative gathers steam, steadily driving the man into weird, nightmarish scenarios, Miscione
examines the themes of relationships and identity, the subsuming of the “I” into the “We,” and how our perceptions of our loved ones change over time. “Tessa” is easily the most narratively odd entry—is Tessa even real? How big are her teeth? What’s with those gnomes?— and while I admit to befuddlement, Miscione’s surreal tale of love gone horribly wrong has stuck with me.
“The Unsolvable Problem”—Erin Pryce
Erin Pryce’s gentle fable tackles the problem of narrative perception, filtering the confusing trials of childhood through the observations of a developmentally challenged young boy. This is a world where even the simplest of challenges prove monumental, where common social cues are misunderstood, and the emotions of others are unfathomable.