Larry Dark had a thought: “The story needs advocacy as a cultural institution.” He argued that, like poetry, short fiction deserves its own organized, institutionally supported month of recognition.
Dark’s opinion matters not only because he has a cool name and can string together a good declarative sentence, but also because he directs one of the biggest deals for short fiction writers in America—The Story Prize. A $20,000 distinction bestowed on one lucky vessel of the genre annually, it throws a punch for the idea that short stories are as worthy of praise and celebration as any other written form.
Over the last few years, literary entities such as Emerging Writers Network and Fiction Writers Review have energized the campaign for recognition of National Short Story Month every May. Through their websites, they welcome writers and readers into the related swirl of new prose posts, reviews and thoughtful commentary.
Las Vegas has talent in the short fiction mix. Here are some choice lines by local writers:
• Alissa Nutting: I am boiling inside a kettle with five other people. Our limbs are bound and our intestines and mouths are stuffed with herbs and garlic, but we can still speak. We smell great despite the pain. (“Dinner”)
• Douglas Unger: She would pull out the empty boxes, suitcases and plastic bags and start packing. She would be gone to a friend’s house before Carl turned up for dinner. She would leave a note for him on the refrigerator. ‘Let’s not talk after all. I’ve decided to avoid you for the rest of my life.’ –L (“Leslie and Sam”)
• Jaq Greenspon: A line appears where the can and strip meet. I get excited. One of my digits gets caught by the metal and begins to bleed. I remain Happy. The tin moves along the strip as if it wants to release its treasure soon, as if it has waited too long already. The juice from the can mingles with my juice, foaming a greenish-red puddle on the tile below me. (“Happiness Blues”)