Well, I’ve finished reading all the submissions for the Book a Break Short Story competition, and I must admit I’m both very glad not to have to pick a winner myself and correspondingly grateful to Atthys for accepting to do so. He tells me he’s now in the process of whittling down an initial shortlist of 21 to half a dozen or so, and then the truly difficult part begins. I don’t know which ones featured in his shortlist but I reached a list of 24 myself so it will be interesting at the end to see how much our lists overlap.
There was a broad mix of styles, topics and characters. Some used the prompt only peripherally, others made it central. Both approaches were fine, though in a couple the cats were so peripheral they didn’t get mentioned at all. Perhaps that’s a little too far from the prompt – I don’t have a cat obsession, but I was expecting one or two to at least stroll past in the background, possibly dangling a mouse. Actually, there were surprisingly few mentions of mice, but that’s OK too. What did emerge was that cats possess an amazing array of talents and personalities. I wasn’t too surprised, having read Kafka On The Shore, but it was nice to see such variety on display.
Murakami’s novel, of course, has a few hundred pages in which to develop many layers of mystery, weave them into a tantalising plot, and lead us ever further into his world. But as Atthys points out in his discussion of short stories, an awful lot can also be done in just a few words. Many thanks to all those who took it upon themselves to tackle this most difficult of forms. The winner will be announced on March 15th.
Meanwhile, Bill and Ben the Sandwich Men tell me that the offer of a free copy of One Green Bottle (pdf, mobi or epub) in return for an honest Amazon review lasts for just three more days. They urge anyone who hasn’t yet signed up for what they call ‘an incredible offer’ to read some of the reviews posted here.