Judge’s Notes

Prairie Fire - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - COREY RE­DEKOP

“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.

“Tessa”—Chris­tine Mis­cione

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.

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