Short Story Prize
Reader Q&A with Greg Kearney
As we prepare to unveil the shortlist for the 2013 CBC Short Story Prize, we're asking the readers for the competition what it's like to read hundreds of short stories in search of the best. Here’s Greg Kearney on keeping things simple.
Tell us about yourself.
I live in Toronto. I write fiction.
What's your literary street cred?
My second short story collection, Pretty, won the Relit award last fall.
What are you working on now?
Finishing up my first novel, The Desperates, out in the fall with Cormorant; I've also started something new. Another novel, looks like.
What do you like most about the short story as a form?
Incisiveness is nice.
When you’re reading hundreds of stories and trying to choose the most exceptional ones, what are you looking for?
An ear for the elegant sentence. A clear fear of tedium.
What are some of the subjects/themes that people are writing about?
"I Remember My Dead Grandma"; "I Remember My Dead Husband"; "Isn't Cancer Awful?"; "I Regret Selling the Cottage"; "I Don't Know What to Write About."
Has being a reader for the Short Story Prize changed anything about how you approach your own writing?
I was reminded to always adhere religiously to simplicity, at least in terms of sentence construction; if you're even slightly uncertain as to the integrity of a given line, you should distill it further. Read anything by Derek McCormack, and you'll be good to go.
Can you describe a couple of the entries that struck you as standouts?
"Recordings" is a refreshingly simple, astute piece; the author chose perfect subject matter for the length constraints of the competition. I didn't want to like "Super Good Ninja Party Time", but it was pitch perfect and beautifully rendered, and transcended cuteness.
Photo credit: Robert Matte