After a long time of reading and thinking and balancing and consulting with local neighbourhood cats, I’ve finally decided the grand final winners!
First prize $150
You’re an open book.
And I’m an illiterate.
Why I love [Your Title Here]
It’s the “an” in the second sentence that clinched it for me. It could be removed, making the sentence “And I’m illiterate” but with the “an” in place the sentence takes on a subtler meaning. To me, “I’m illiterate” suggests a temporary condition, one curable by schooling. “I’m an illiterate” seems to be a more permanent state of being and makes reference to the group of illiterates to which the narrator belongs.
I like the play on words, reading and understanding and the connection to relationships. This story also made me think about how people utterly fail to understand other people – almost as though they were written in an indecipherable language.
And finally, the story made me think about how learning to read opens up the wealth of human knowledge which has been stored over time. Reading is the key to these riches. Yet there are few guides or formal classes on learning how to read people, emotions and motivations. Without them, we’re stumbling around having to learn it anew each time.
Second prize $100
and as I got closer
because it didn’t move,
even when I was a footfall away.
Then I realized; it had happened to die standing on all six legs.
Why I love yoshiyahu
I actually thought of the Praying Mantis when I read this story because they are sometimes not afraid of humans and will stand there watching as you approach. The “clearly brave or stoned” is funny – the suggestion that a cricket not moving has a human motivation rather than an insect one. The grasshopper is built up to be brave, large, standing still and possibly stone and then shown to be dead, standing on all six legs. I loved this conclusion for two reasons.
The first: it made me think of the marvellous poem by D.H. Lawrence titled “Self Pity”:
I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.
The grasshopper is dead, standing on its feet, its quiet death like billions upon billions of insects and animals, dead without pity, without note and without the emotion surrounding human death.
The second reason: it made me think of Robert Louis Stephenson’s comment regarding aging, dying and the slow sink of becoming an invalid: “I wish to die in my boots; no more Land of Counterpane for me. To be drowned, to be shot, to be thrown from a horse – ay, to be hanged, rather than pass again through that slow dissolution.”
This grasshopper died standing up, on it’s feet. It died in its boots.
This to me was of particular interest: animals and insects continue about their lives until they die whereas humans can slip into misery, quiet and a deliberate fading away.
Third prize $50
I ate my way through two painful tonnes of solid iron. She still wasn’t attracted to me.
Why I love The Beautiful Magnet Girl
It’s simple and it’s funny. I got a clear image of a man sitting down, eating two painful tonnes of solid iron, all in the quest for a girl. Ah, the stupid things men do to attract girls! That ridiculous risk-taking that, of course, pays off and so generates more risk-taking of a even more extreme nature. I like the idea of Magnet Girl as well. Who is she? A superhero? Or simply a girl who is attracted to iron?
Making the choices
I compiled a list of stories I loved (and were reasonbly high rated) and then read them over and over to finally pick three. This was quite hard and I think if I made a list in a few days then I might pick a different three. I never realised how hard it was to judge a competition when there was more than a few good entries. It’s one of those good problems to have. I’ve struggled with rewarding some writers and not rewarding others though and felt terrible about choosing because it implies some stories from the list aren’t as good as others.
Anyways, I’ll be putting up the list I consider the “best of” in a few days.
Thank you so much for entering everyone! Now the competition is over please feel free to put up two sentence stories in the future. I’ll be running a competition again and anyone who has ever entered will be eligible to win.