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Fiction

Congratulations to our 2023 Fiction Contest Winner, Melissa DaCosta Brown!

We're excited to announce that Melissa DaCosta Brown is the winner of our 2023 Fiction Contest and $2000 prize! Her story "Husbands" will be featured in the upcoming Winter issue of The Fiddlehead (FH298).

Melissa DaCosta Brown is a graduate of Duke University and has a masters in Journalism from Northwestern University. She worked for MSNBC and ABC News affiliates. Her short stories have been published in Waccamaw, Subnivean, Ponder Review. Her work has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Lascaux Prize.

Excerpt from "Husbands" by Melissa DaCosta Brown

Excerpt
"Husbands" by Melissa DaCosta Brown
Winner of the 2023 Fiction Prize

The game was called Husbands. We played the year we were all thirteen and fourteen, fellow campers at the all-girls Camp Pinecrest in Louisville, Maine. Camp was a group of crumbling 1920s-built log cabins dotting a steep mountainside next to the shores of dark freezing Crystal Lake. You heard it. Crystal Lake, like in Friday the 13th, if you can believe it. And yes, the place was horrifying, but not in that way.

Chris Benjamin: A Richly Layered Study of Poverty and Trauma, Review of The Raw Light of Morning by Shelly Kawaja

The Raw Light of Morning, Shelly Kawaja’s debut novel and winner of the $12,500 BMO Winterset Award in 2022 for outstanding literary work by a Newfoundlander or Labradorian, is at the same time a compelling story of domestic violence, poverty, and trauma, and a 1990s western Newfoundland coming-of-age character study of a young woman of remarkable resilience. This is Laurel’s story, and she is 14 in the opening scene, and forced to intervene to protect her mother from life-threatening violence.

Carol Bruneau: Writing Bareback Review of World Naked Bike Ride by Lisa Fishman

Who can resist the title of this debut short fiction collection? Like cyclists in the eponymous event — a protest against fossil fuel consumption, among other things — Lisa Fishman’s 40 pieces, a collage of micro, flash fiction and narratives of greater length, flout convention. Vanity of vanities, the Pushcart Prize-nominated poet seems to say of the standard short story and its clothing/trappings.

Clarissa Hurley: Squinting Through the Smoke, Review of Cocktail by Lisa Alward

The epigraph to Lisa Alward’s new story collection, Cocktail, is an epiphanic moment from Virginia Woolf ‘s To the Lighthouse, in which the artist Lily Briscoe strives to resurrect and memorialize her dead friend through painting her portrait. Moved to uncharacteristic emotion by a sudden realization of the brevity of life, Lily laments, “Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world?

Stop! Look! Listen! Christine Wu's Reading Recommendation

A recent read-turned-favourite is There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job, written by Kikuko Tsumura and translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton. The narrator, burned out from her previous job, tries out a series of temp jobs with the caveat that they must be as undemanding as possible: “ideally, something along the lines of sitting all day in a chair”. Contrasted with our society’s focus on finding meaningful work, this premise is compelling from the start.

Ian Colford: A Tragedy of Colossal Proportions, Review of The Broken Places by Frances Peck

The natural disaster has been a trope in fiction (and movies) for decades. Usually what happens is that a group of strangers becomes isolated by an unexpected and massively destructive event. The ensuing drama chronicles the efforts of the unlucky individuals to cope with the challenges, dangers and deprivations they suddenly find themselves facing.

Rebecca Geleyn: Lobster Men, Review of Some Hellish by Nicholas Herring

In Nicholas Herring’s first novel, his self-named protagonist, Herring, makes the following socioeconomic comment about lobsters: “You know, it wasn’t too long ago, you couldn’t get anybody to buy lobster. People used it as fertilizer in their gardens. Farmers would put it out on their rows. Eighty per cent of the market nowadays is cruise ships and casinos. The way I see it, lobster is just something people eat to distract them from the fact that they’re pissing their wages away” (260).

Stop! Look! Listen! Meghan Kemp-Gee's Reading Recommendation

One of the best books I’ve read this year is D.A. Lockhart’s 2021 verse novel Bearmen Descend Upon Gimli, a virtuosic fusion of narrative, lyric, athletic, and mythological forms. Lockhart stages an epic Manitoban bonspiel as an allegory or roadmap for storytelling and sports as anticolonial resistance. As the Bearmen’s stones make “the world crack apart,” the collection is a story about literally remaking the world through curling — or maybe through stories about curling. 

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