March 17, 2008
UI Press announces winners of 2008 Iowa Short Fiction Awards
The University of Iowa Press has announced the latest winners of the Iowa Short Fiction Awards: Glen Pourciau from Texas is the winner of the 2008 Iowa Short Fiction Award for his collection "Invite"; and Illinois writer Molly McNett's "One Dog Happy" is the winner of the 2008 John Simmons Short Fiction Award.
The recipients were selected for the UI press by final judge Charles D'Ambrosio, author of "The Dead Fish Museum" and "Orphans."
Pourciau's stories have won the Carter V. Cooper Memorial Prize and the Brazos Bookstore Award for Best Short Story from the Texas Institute of Letters, and they have been cited in "Best American Short Stories" and nominated for Pushcart Prizes. He has published stories in magazines including the New England Review, the Ontario Review, the Mississippi Review, the New Orleans Review, the Cimarron Review and Quarterly West.
Intense inner and outer monologues resonate through the lives of Glen Pourciau's characters: We hear the voice of a man who will not stop talking, the voice of a man who does not want to talk, the voice of a man stunned into silence by his sudden awareness of a desire he did not know he felt, and the voice of a man struggling to accept his imminent death.
Inhabiting an outwardly bland landscape that overlays internal questions and recurring confusion, the narrators of these 10 stories strive to understand their varied predicaments. Conflicts with neighbors arise, troubling memories return, suspicions and fears lead people into isolated corners as distances open up inside them and around them. And in those open spaces, the sometimes humorous, sometimes obsessive voices continue their quest.
McNett's work has appeared in "The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005," Brain Child magazine, the Missouri Review, the Black Warrior Review, the New England Review, New Letters, Crazyhorse and Other Voices.
In "One Dog Happy," McNett couples laugh-out-loud dialogue and wry observation reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor with disquieting strains of dashed hope, troubled sexuality and disillusionment.
The adults in these stories can seem as hapless and helpless as the younger characters. Two neglected daughters use the language of clothes to cope with their parents' divorce and their father's mail-order bride. A young girl's bizarre sexual fantasies help her gain control over the chaos of her family life. A gang of teenagers accuses a farmer of bestiality. A divorced father tries to create a pony-filled world that might appeal to his daughters.
In the title story, Mr. Bob, the minister's housesitter, loses a dog but finds someone to believe in. And in "Helping," the darkest story in this amazing collection, Ruthie's anger conquers her religious faith when she takes care of a severely disabled child.
The Iowa Short Fiction Awards are given to a first collection of fiction in English and are administered through the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The honors are national in scope and have been given since 1969. The John Simmons Short Fiction Award, named for the first director of the UI Press, was created in 1988 to complement the existing Iowa Short Fiction Award.
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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500