Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Short Story Month Contest

Today is the last day to enter our Short Story Month contest, so I'm bumping up the original post with all the contest details. Don't miss out. Enter today!

May is Short Story Month and we are eager to celebrate it. One thing we are going to do this year is hold a SSM contest. We want to hear from you, our readers, about your favorite short stories from Ninth Letter. Simply leave a comment in this post telling us which Ninth Letter story is your favorite and why. We will share your thoughts here on the blog. But wait, there's more. Telling us about your favorite 9L story also enters you into our drawing for 9L prize packs!

Prize pack 1: a 9L t-shirt and a 1-year subscription

Prize pack 2: a 9L bandana and 2-year subscription

So, yes, there will be two winners chosen by a random drawing! Start posting about your favorite 9L stories today and the winners will be chosen at the end of the month.

Also, like we did for National Poetry Month, we are going back into our archives to post some of our favorite 9L stories. Those posts can be found below. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Short Story Month - Paint

There are just a few days left in Short Story Month, so I'm glad that our next featured story is one of my favorites, "Paint" by Whit Coppedge from our Spring/Summer 2010 (vol. 7, no. 1) issue.


Paint, the young man, is thin. "You'll blow away," he's told, sail that he is.

Out her back window, a neighbor woman, Ribeiro, sees the ring of teenage boys, more young men, circle around him. As if they sense her watching, they leave, setting Paint on his now-unmolested way home, along the worn path following the creek behind her house, a short cut to the sidewalks of his neighborhood.

"I wonder if you could help me with something," she asks him the next day as he passes along the path, a day when he's not stopped and bothered. "My car keys have fallen back behind the refrigerator. Can you see if you can grab them for me?"

He is happy to oblige and slides between the white panel and the counter, snaking his arm around the corner and hooking the ring with his finger. For his help, he gets a peck on the cheek.

Read the rest of "Paint" here, and don't forget to enter our Short Story Month Contest, either here, on Facebook, or on Twitter! Visit our webstore to pick up a copy of vol. 7, no. 1.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Short Story Month - Rachel Cantor

Our latest feature for Short Story Month is the excellent "Zanzibar, Bereft," by the always excellent Rachel Cantor, originally published in volume 3, no. 2. A new story by Rachel, featuring Shira, the narrator of "Zanzibar, Bereft," is forthcoming very soon in the next issue of Kenyon Review.

Zanzibar, Bereft

Delhi, 1991. You don’t go there. You don’t go to the Hotel Bel Air (named for the owner’s ’62 bubbletop, baby blue, photo pasted behind reception). A hotel recommended by your Air India stewardess, whom you trusted because of the bindi on her forehead. But no, it’s not a hotel, it’s a hostel, a hovel, really, catering to itinerant carpet dealers, Kashmiris who knock on your door, who knock and knock and knock, and unfurl carpets with well-practiced flicks of the wrist when finally, bleary-eyed, you open your door, the most beautiful carpets in all of India, pure silick, would you like to see another? You’re dismayed, in disarray, it’s been days since you’ve slept, but still they offer you tea, send for it when you say, No, no tea, inquire, What is your good name, where are your husband, your children, chuckle when you say you are poor, for no white woman is ever truly poor. You put a sign on your door—I hate Kashmiri carpets, I will never buy a Kashmiri carpet—and fall asleep only to be awakened by a rat skittering across your chest, forcing you to disturb management, in the form of a sleepy desk clerk named Raj. Show me, Raj says, show me where a rat could possibly have entered your room and surely I will give you another.

Room, he means, not rat.

You don’t go to Delhi. You don’t go to a poetry reading to escape the Hotel Bell Air, you don’t meet Ravi Singh, you are not seduced by his dark eyes, the taste of chai on his tongue.

Read the rest of "Zanzibar, Bereft" here, and don't forget to enter our Short Story Month Contest, either here, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Short Story Month - Keith Lee Morris

Next up for Short Story Month, we have Keith Lee Morris, one of our favorite authors and people, with his story from our Fall/Winter 05 (vol. 2, no. 2) issue.

Listen While I Speak

We were at the doctor's, Tip and I, to see about getting me off the Pill and getting him a vasectomy.

But the room was more comfortable than our doctor's office, with a hanging fern in one corner and framed prints of flowers on the wall and a nice, airy smell instead of that awful antiseptic one that gets right into your breathing.

I was lying on a table and Tip was on one side of me and on the other side was an ultrasound machine with the glowing screen and the jelly on my stomach with the doctor running the pointer over me. It was my obstetrician, I saw then, from when Scott and Brennan were born, not our usual doctor, but I didn't tell him that I wasn't pregnant.

You can read the rest of the story here. Don't forget to enter our Short Story Month Contest. Winners of the 9L prize packs will be announced at the end of the month.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Contributor Round-Up

Congratulations to Benjamin Percy (vol. 6, no. 2) and Jehanne Dubrow (vol. 5, no. 2)! They were recently announced as the winners of Author Awards from the The Society of Midland Authors in the fiction and poetry categories respectively. Percy won for his novel The Wilding and Dubrow for her poetry collection Stateside.

Also, congratulations to Adam Levin (vol. 1, no. 1)! His novel, The Instructions, won the New York Public Library's 2011 Young Lions Fiction Award.

The Spring 2011 online edition of Barrelhouse is guest edited by Mary Miller (vol. 7, no. 2). Be sure to check out what she has to say about the hotness (kind of) of reality TV stars.

Publisher's Weekly has an interview with Kevin Wilson (forthcoming in the soon to be released vol. 8, no. 1) about the potential of children to kill their parents' art and his new novel, The Family Fang.

Vol. 7, no. 2 contributor, Matt Bell is presenting a ton of good Short Story Month related posts on his blog. Some examples of the cool stuff you'll find there include: Brian Evenson (vol. 2, no. 2) discussing destabilization in stories, Michael Czyzniejewski (vol. 7, no. 2) reviewing "Wife Leaves Left" from The Southern Review and a review of Kathrine Vaz's "Below the Salt" from vol. 7, no. 1 by Megan Fink.

Don't forget to tell us about your favorite 9L story for our Short Story Month Contest. Leaving a comment here on the blog or on Twitter or our Facebook wall automatically enters you into the drawing to win a 9L prize pack.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Short Story Month - Kelly Magee

Our next Short Story Month story is the fantastic "Atlanta Makes a List of Things It's Lost" by Kelly Magee from the Spring/Summer 2007 (vol. 4, no.1) issue.

Atlanta Makes a List of Things It's Lost

The luggage, first, of the woman arriving to interview for a security job the week after the end of the Olympics, her dream job, which she will not get because she'll have to buy a new suit due to the lost suitcase, and the suit will be the tiniest bit too small which will give a certain permission to the interviewer, a forty-something Macon boy who believes that security jobs are for men and whose interests in women can be summed up in phrases like the tiniest bit too small, and who makes an offensive comment which he cannot take back, to which the woman makes an unfortunate gesture. The interviewer's tact. The woman's dream. Their combined integrity, which Atlanta lost on the twenty-second floor of a high rise, but also in a child's split-lip in Sweet Auburn, and in the unspoken break policies of the Coca-Cola Factory, and in the distance between the New South and the Confederate Underground, and in any number of unrecorded incidents on a street called Peach Tree, because every street is called Peach Tree, and maybe Atlanta has lost its ingenuity, too.

You can read the rest of the story here. Visit our webstore to pick up a copy of vol. 4, no. 1.

Don't forget to enter our Short Story Month Contest. Winners of the 9L prize packs will be announced at the end of the month.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Short Story Month - Roy Kesey

Next up for Short Story Month is one of our favorite stories from our Fall/Winter 2006 (vol. 3, no. 2) issue by one of our favorite people, Roy Kesey.


It is nearly dark. Stand very still. There is nothing that can be done about the cold. It has been nearly dark for the past twelve hours, and soon it will be completely dark. Stand very still and do not think about the cold.

The natseq will come. It always comes. Do not move or the natseq might hear, might use another hole. Watch the strip of baleen: it will tremble as the natseq approaches. In a moment or an hour or tomorrow it will tremble, and you will hear the roil of water, the sudden rasp of drawn breath, and at that moment you must be prepared to hit what you cannot see.

Read the rest of this great story here. Don't forget to enter our Short Story Month Contest to win a 9L prize pack!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Short Story Month - Your Favorite 9L Stories

We wanted to share some of the 9L stories our readers have said are their favorite.

From Twitter:

@: Jed Berry's great "Ghost 7, Prince 9" in Ninth Letter 14 (vol. 7, no. 2)

@ D Chaon (vol. 4, no. 2) & A Monson (vol. 6, no. 2) both had really memorable stories. I also dug the stuff of Matt Bell's that came out recently (vol. 7, no. 2).

From the blog:

Eric: "Stomp Tokyo" by Viet Dinh (vol. 6, no. 2). Nothing goes better with heartbreak than an island full of irradiated monsters.

Monique: "Ghost 7, Prince 9" by Jedediah Berry (vol. 7, no. 2). It's a story that demands its own action figures. You could make your own Ghost 7, Prince 9 play set at home with Playmobil figurines, an old placemat, a shoebox, Knox gelatin and blue food coloring, a cucumber, and some of those die-cut vinyl numbers that they sell at the hobby shop. Maybe some Peeps (for the feast scenes), pointy green Lego trees, and wagon-wheel pasta and toothpicks to make an invading army. And lots of tiny, delicious edicts.

We love hearing from our readers, so leave a comment here on the blog, tweet us, or post on our Facebook wall to keep letting us know which 9L stories are your favorite. And remember, telling us about your favorite 9L story automatically enters you in our Short Story Month Contest for 9L prize packs!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Short Story Month - Marianne Jay

Next up for Short Story Month is one of my personal favorites, Marianne Jay's "Cherry Ripe" from our Fall/Winter 09-10 (vol. 6, no. 2) issue. Marianne was recently interviewed about the publication process for "Cherry Ripe" by Ted Morrissey as part of his series on first publications. Below is an excerpt from "Cherry Ripe." It can be read in full here.

Cherry Ripe

Joey Sturm said she lived in Guam, but Doug Dressler said she was a robot, and didn't live anywhere. We debated the merits of each case between sips of orange pop, which we'd have preferred to drink out of cans, but which Mrs. Sturm had forced us to pour into oversized plastic cups, so big they almost required two hands to hold. Dress made a convincing point: When the voice said, "three," which it said in nearly every broadcast, it always came at the same pitch, and sounded vaguely like a question. Actually, it reminded us a lot of our principal, a proud ex-nun who never believed you. She'd listen to your story and then crush the curls of her hairdo with one wiry hand, crooning "Really," until either she lost interest or you admitted you were a liar. "Really." That's what the "three" sounded like. Every time. The other numbers were also consistent; the commanding "five," the flirty "eight." It was just the order of them that changed, never the pitch. We'd been tracking them since Thursday night. It looked like Dress was right; she was a machine. But then Joey impressed us all.

"Wait a sec. She has a British accent. Robots don't have accents."

And so it was agreed. Cherry Ripe was a real woman. And we were in love with her.

You can read the rest of "Cherry Ripe" here. Visit our webstore to buy a copy of vol. 6, no. 2.

Don't forget to enter our Short Story Month Contest! Winners will be announced at the end of the month.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Short Story Month - B.R. Smith

Our first Short Story Month story is "The Countrymen" by B.R. Smith from our Fall/Winter 08-09 (vol. 5, no. 2) issue.

The Countrymen

It's when the blood moves over the battlefield that I'm in and out of love, swooning and cowardly, wanting to run while my sword feels its way around their guts, searching, keening when it hits bone, the ocean air like a whip across the plain, and me turning sideways, looking away out of politesse, the bile rising to my throat. When I spot General Dessalines he's on his mount in a fallow, assaying the French positions, his nose up and the horse moving right over top of body after body--white, black, mulatto, whomever--his expression one of mild reproach, so the handsome boy on the end of my sword I make an aging governor instead of a handsome boy and so am fine when he collapses at my feet, his blond head quaking, and me not even thinking, yelling to the whites and the dead, "Goodbye! Goodbye!" War is easy. So, on with Saint-Domingue and the independence and the marching and me following the chant of "Noir!" even as my own voice cracks. For hours the flies hiss above the plain, and I fight, dreaming of Dessalines' horse and Dessalines' bedside and praying for camp.
The rest of "The Countrymen" can be read here. To buy a copy of vol. 5, no. 2, visit our webstore.