When I read recently that a story published in this lit mag had won the Million Writers Award, I decided to give it a closer look. The award is sponsored by the online literary journal, storySouth, and involves a panel of judges reading through seven or eight hundred entries from the web to select a hundred and seventy-five or so for further consideration. Then Jason Sanford, previous editor of storySouth, selects the top ten stories and these are voted on by the public. It is a fairly democratic – if arbitrary – procedure, and the winner of this year’s award is “The Fisherman’s Wife” by Jenny Williams, which appeared in the August 2008 issue of LITnIMAGE.
The latest edition of this online journal presents six stories, most of them quite short, three art selections, a book review, and a video interview with Kevin Dean, sculptor and photographer. “Plum Blossom,” by Grace Andreacchi, is a touching bit of micro fiction about the death of a seven-year-old girl. It is a delicate piece with nice imagery and avoids being overly maudlin. Even better is “Frank the Phrenologist and the Fabulous Wolf Woman,” by Eric Bennett. This is about a reclusive man who can tell people’s personalities by the bumps on their head but cannot use this skill with the wolf woman from the Ringling Brothers Circus because she is covered with hair. Not knowing arouses him and causes him to wonder if they can have a normal relationship within their abnormalities.
Tria Andrews does an excellent review of Howard Jaffe’s recent novel, Jesus Coyote, which is a fictionalized version of Charles Manson. It contains two sentences that are becoming all too true in our modern society: “The usurpation of ‘fact’ in our culture has moved very rapidly . . . with the almost total reliance on technology. Information becomes disinformation without apology; one datum contradicts a previous datum posted only a few hours before.”
This is an attractive journal that is nicely laid out, with all of the contents pleasingly presented. Other online journals could study this one and learn something from its elegant simplicity. They have only been around since the summer of 2008 but are already garnering awards, certainly an excellent portent of things to come.