Sunday, May 11, 2008

On "Saturday in the Quality Save in Chorlton" by Chris Killen (568 words) ****

So the new Million Writer Awards list of notable stories is posted at Story South. Last year I read the top ten stories and voted; my second choice, "Urchins, While Swimming," by Catherynne M. Valente, ended up the winner, which was somewhat refreshing--to know that my tastes weren't completely different from those who voted. It's a magnificently lyrical piece. My first choice, however, "13 Halloweens," by Michael K. White didn't even place as one of the runners up. I was going to talk about that piece here--a rundown of various holidays that ends up being a commentary on 9/11 and does it such a way that one doesn't end up feeling like, gag, another one of these 9/11 stories; unfortunately it's no longer available to the public (you now have to subscribe to The Deepening to see the story). So instead, I will recount something I came across when perusing 2007's list of the top 100 (I was glad to see Mark Lafferty's "Song and Dance" among that list). I was struck by a journal called Lamination Colony and decided to check out the nominated story. I wasn't too moved by it (just as last year, of the top ten stories, I only found two I really liked, mentioned above--and about half of them I didn't care for at all). But I also looked at the newest issue and found an interesting piece about a discount department story. Lamination Colony is devoted to "experimental" work, which can mean bad things. Most of what it publishes appear to be pieces devoted to wordplay (and the surreal--its stated publication end). Killen's piece is masterful at the wordplay end of things--a sort of Gertrude Stein repetition of words piled on top of one another to make something beautiful and curious. That's the main thing going for this piece, which means that I think the author was wise to keep it short. The story to me seems to be about juxtaposing the "sexy" sales pitch the store gives to the decidedly unsexy lives of those within it. But the words are sexy too--well, mostly (that is, if you consider wordplay sexy, without being erotic). Read the story here.

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