The Ohio State University Press

The Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction

Edited by Paul Allen Miller and Richard H. Armstrong

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

Go

Browse Books in Series:

The Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction

1

Results 1-9 of 9

:
Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

The Bones of Garbo

The Bones of Garbo rattles skeletons in the house of fiction. These stories revel in sexual experiment and linguistic play. Lewis finds her subjects on the wrong side of the sheets and the tracks, in marginal neighborhoods where characters confront the cost of motherhood, the mystery of desire and the pain of invasion, the meaning of race and tribe. Ultimately, these seekers reach connection by way of confrontation. In “Waiting Period,” a couple creates their own commitment ritual when they go together to take an AIDS test; in “Goddess Love,” a young woman struggles with an otherworldly attraction toward her pagan roommate; in “All Hallow’s Leaves,” an African American teenager meets his demons in a fundamentalist haunted house. Lewis is relentless but compassionate, and her fiction mixes bitter herbs and honey on the tongue. In the title story, “Bones of Garbo,” a teenage girl aspiring to be an actress and undergoing her first role as an ingénue, treats the reader to the life and loves of Greta Garbo as her own “coming of age” story unfolds. “From the “Marijuana Tree” to “Evacuation Route,” these stories are luminous and fanciful, but also grounded in the all-too-real wounds and dramas that make up our regular come and go. The book brims with smart arresting observation.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

The Book of Right and Wrong

Anxiety, Intertexts, and the Miltonic Memory

Matt Debenham’s stories are for people who think they don’t like short stories. These stories don’t leave off in mid-breath; instead, they feature characters who seem to live on even after their closing pages. The humor in The Book of Right and Wrong makes the jarring moments that much more jarring, and the tender moments that much more tender. their characters at the defining moments of their lives. A mother finds herself defending her son’s biggest bully from a tormentor of his own; a young man watches as his cape-wearing former high-school classmate proves himself more adept at making friends; a social worker gambles everything on expediting an adoption—and causes unforeseen consequences for every person in her life; a boy standing in for Jimmy Carter in his elementary school’s mock-election inadvertently starts a bloody playground war; an ex-con single father finds himself on the inside of his town’s social circle, with no clue as to how the game is played. With lively storytelling and empathy to spare, The Book of Right and Wrong defies the notion that full, memorable characters live only in novels.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

The Deer in the Mirror

With a song-like voice and deep knowledge of the history and folklore of her native Virginia, Cary Holladay creates dazzling stories of hardship and ecstasy. A young widow romances a German immigrant while weighing a proposal from the colonial governor. Convicted of murdering her master, an enslaved woman is burned at the stake. A breakneck stagecoach ride gives a bricklayer’s apprentice the power to save or destroy his fellow passengers. An aging bachelor despairs of his marriage to a Confederate orphan. A beautiful adventuress joins the 1898 Alaska Gold Rush, charms a violent gangster, and figures out the secret of his fabulous wealth. This seventh book from an award-winning author spans 300 years in the Old Dominion. Holladay’s people fight the wars, battle the floods, and wrest a living from a wilderness where “Time is God’s, not ours”—so says a reformed prostitute whose obsessive love for an amnesiac Yankee soldier defines her life. With a sensuous, lyrical style, Holladay holds a distinctive place in contemporary fiction. All of these stories have appeared in major literary journals and anthologies, including Tin House and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

The Departure Lounge

Stories and a Novella

What happens when people land on unfamiliar moral and cultural turf? The five stories in Paul Eggers’ The Departure Lounge examine that question, focusing on characters in either voluntary or involuntary exile—men and women forced to confront their deepest emotions and beliefs, removed from familiar, comforting surroundings. In one story an academic flees his family, arriving in Africa only to find that his African host is dealing with a similar crisis. In another, an American chess hustler in Africa is forced to come to terms with his own sense of right and wrong. In yet another, an old Vietnamese man now living in California finds that his relationship with his now-dead daughter was not what he had assumed. In the story “Hey,” a young chess star confronts the death of his brother in the Vietnam War. And in the final story, an aging American couple—former UN relief workers—return to their refugee-camp worksite in Malaysia, discovering what they had forgotten about themselves. In lyrical, tough-minded prose, Eggers’ stories illuminate in unexpected ways the profundity of cross-cultural experiences, as well as deliver fresh insights into the complexity of identity.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

Hibernate

Hibernate is a big-hearted and brutal story collection. In these globe-spanning stories, Elizabeth Eslami follows ordinary men and women who slowly awaken to hard choices. A fishing trip forces two Montana brothers to grow up in ways they never could have imagined. A Sudanese immigrant begins a new life with his girlfriend in America, only to find himself pulled toward his mother’s past transgressions. A group of tourists visits an Indian pueblo and realizes their tour guide isn’t at all who they expected. A shipwrecked captain and his men cling to the company of narwhals and Eskimos. And in the unforgettable title story, two lovers trade life as they’ve known it for an escape into the extraordinary. A masterful storyteller as likely to draw blood as to heal, Eslami moves her restless, resilient characters across an uneven landscape toward a hard earned place of peace.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

How

If every story is born of a question—How did we get here? How do you make your arm do that?—the stories in Geoff Wyss’s How search for answers to the mysteries of an astonishing range of characters. The narrator of “How I Come to Be Here at the GasFast” explains why he hasn’t left a truck stop in the two days since he scratched a winning lottery ticket. In “How to Be a Winner,” a sports consultant browbeats a high school football team with his theory of history and a justification of his failed coaching career. Lost in the mazes they’ve made of themselves, Wyss’s characters search for exits on ground that shifts dizzyingly from humor to pathos, from cynicism to earnestness, from comedy to tragedy, often within the same sentence. Although propelled by a razor-sharp, contemporary voice, Wyss’s stories—many set in a New Orleans unknown to television and tourists—have more in common with Chekhov and O’Connor than with “Treme.”

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

Little America

Little America is for anyone who has ever considered just getting in the car and driving away. Here the ribbon of Western road is a metaphor for the heart’s strange longings, providing hard, sometimes hilarious, lessons on the improbability of escape, the possibility of salvation, and the elusiveness of self-knowledge. In “Yukon River,” young lovers with a seedy past risk everything to be purified in the Alaska outback; they encounter instead the ruthless opportunism and alluring corruption of oil boom Fairbanks. In “Suitcase,” a modern Heart of Darkness, the road meanders from California down through impoverished Mexico and then sinks into a deadly Guatemalan jungle where the idealism of an earlier era gently rots. “Roll” starts in a truck on a cliff top in Idaho, one wheel off the edge. “Little America” travels with grifters on the lam who choke up at the sight of an Oregon wheat field at sunrise; later, in Wyoming, they are made solemn by the grandeur of the world’s biggest truck stop and pause to ponder: Why would anyone willingly stay in one place? With deadpan humor, perfect pitch voice, and keen love of place, Simmons’s stories illuminate the abiding American desire to “light out”—if not necessarily for something better, at least for something new.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

Little Men

Novellas and Stories

Ira Mittelman, the middle-aged hero of “A Box of Ashes,” one of two novellas in Little Men, is wrestling with a dilemma: should he fulfill his late father’s dying wish by taking the old man’s ashes back to Missouri, to scatter them on the grounds of Camp HaHaTonka, the Boy Scout camp where Ira spent several summers as a boy? It’s a long way to go just to dump some ashes, and if Ira makes this pilgrimage, his absence might jeopardize the fragile relationship he’s managed to maintain with his ex-wife (they’re still having sex every Friday night). In “Spivak in Babylon,” Little Men’s other novella, it’s 1982, and Leo Spivak, an ambitious 30-year-old copywriter at a large Chicago advertising agency, is about to get his big break: a chance to go to Hollywood to participate for the first time in the filming of a television commercial. A week in Hollywood, on the company’s expense account! A room at the fabled Chateau Marmont (Garbo’s old suite, in fact)! The only problem is the subject of the commercial itself: a new feminine hygiene spray to be marketed to pre-adolescent girls. Hovering over all the proceedings in “Spivak in Babylon” is the genial, befuddled presence of President Ronald Reagan, the Leader of the Free World, whose presence haunts Leo’s dreams.

Access Restricted no This search result is for a Book

Ordination

“If my mother were to tell the story . . .” So begins the title piece in this debut collection of short fiction, eight stories that explore the gap between the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we have lived. In “Punitive Damages,” a father, the beneficiary of a huge financial settlement in compensation for his son’s death, must confront the truth of the life that the son’s death has provided. In “Punnett’s Squares,” winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, an adopted son seeks to prove, against all evidence to the contrary, that his adoptive father is in fact his biological father. In “Induction Ceremony,” a small-town basketball hero returns to his hometown no longer a man but now a woman, and his onetime teammate-and-friend must reconsider who they were and who they are now. In the pair of pieces that bookend the collection, “Ordination” and “Be a Missionary,” a Baptist preacher’s son must reconcile the distance between the evidence of things seen and the evidence of things unseen. These are men and boys who like to see themselves as worthy of the titles of father, son, husband, lover, and friend, but who must fight their own instincts and desires to claim such honors. These are boys and men for whom questions of identity—biological, cultural, sexual, religious, moral—are unavoidable, men and boys always seeking to be who they want to be, always aware of who they are.

1

Results 1-9 of 9

:

Return to Browse All Series on Project MUSE

Series

The Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction

Content Type

  • (9)

Access

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access