CBC Literary Prizes

Bookendings by Steve Thornton

Steve Thornton has made the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Bookendings.

2018 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Steve Thornton is a copyeditor and writer from Toronto, Ont. (Courtesy of Steve Thornton )

Steve Thornton has made the 2018 CBC ​Short Story Prize longlist for Bookendings.

About Steve

Steve Thornton began his writing career in 1974 after graduating from Georgian College. He has worked as a journalist in Ontario and British Columbia, and has studied the craft of writing fiction along the way. In 1996 he published, with writing partner Anne DeGrace, a coffee table book about the city of Nelson, B.C., which sold about 25,000 copies. Now, he works as a copy editor and writer for Cycle Canada magazine and continues to write fiction.

Entry in five-ish words

Books come to life.

The story's source of inspiration

"An email message to a friend complaining that I had so many unfinished books in my living room that I thought they'd rise up and rebel against me. She responded, 'That's a short story.'"

First lines

Words are spoken and Graeme snaps awake in his reading chair. Dreaming? But now hears, "A goddamned insult," and responding, feminine, "Don't swear! He loves us." Graeme sits up, says, "What?"

Silence, then an intake of breath, like the sound of pages turning. He rises, falls back, hears, "It's him! He's still here!" A child's voice, high and sweet and scared.

"Who are you?" he says. But there is no one, and he knows it. The store is a jumble of used books, books on shelves on the floor on little tables, books everywhere. And it's late. The reading chair is too comfortable; he fell asleep hours ago. He says, "Who's there?" Bad enough that for weeks he's been unable to finish reading a book, but lately afflicted by this creeping dementia—it's too much, and especially hurtful that the hallucinations come from books, for they are his antidote, anodyne for loss. "Who are you?"

He hears, "Tell him." An insistent whisper. "Tell him."

Alarmed, he searches, but it's a small space and customers are infrequent. He is alone.

About the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have their story published on CBC Books and will have the opportunity to attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their story published on CBC Books


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