What can one say about the meaning of life? Just the utterance of that phrase makes us cringe a bit. It inspires us to rant about the subjectivity of experience, about how forcing meaning onto something as subtle and rich as our lives should be a crime. That's probably why it made for a good but counterintuitive theme for this year's fiction contest: The best short stories insist on the subjective experiences of the characters and on the subtle and rich detail that meaning flows from rather than being forced upon.
Our first place winner, "In Case of Emergency, Good Luck" by Abigail Greenbaum, possesses all of those qualities. The married couple at the center of the story is experiencing a common enough crisis — whether or not to have child — but the ways they deal with it are the actions of singular, distinct individuals. Slightly crazed individuals, in fact. The story weaves the theme in subtle, unexpected ways: a book bound in skin, gas station arguments, comic poetic interjections. We're thrilled to be publishing it here.
The contest was judged by three writers who play big roles in Atlanta's literary community, each in a different way. Jamie Iredell, author of Prose. Poems. A Novel. and The Book of Freaks, teaches in SCAD's growing creative writing program and helps operate Solar Anus, perhaps Atlanta's most forward-thinking reading series. Laura Straub is writing short stories but also operating Vouched Books, a curated, mobile micro-bookstore. Kory Calico is one-third of the rap group W.I.C., his poetry and fiction is showing up in literary magazines, and he runs the tight-knit writing workshop Kill Your Darlings.
A big thanks is due to all of the authors who trusted their stories with us, the judges, and Chelsea Raflo, who illustrated the winning stories and the paper's cover.
— Wyatt Williams