Round 78: Winners

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Winners
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Winners! I’ve got winners! With comments hot off the press. Thanks to Rebekah Postupak for her continued dedication to the online flash community and for volunteering her time this week to judge entries here at The Angry Hourglass. Of course there would be no Angry Hourglass or Flash Frenzy if it weren’t for you, the writers, so a hearty thanks to all of you as well. You’ll find Rebekah’s comments below.

There’s little in our modern world that inspires as many passions as the Church, passions which were echoed in many ways in your stories this round. Your characters battled against belief, against doubt, and above all, against ancient disappointment in humans who consistently fail to live up to the divine standards they wish for the world. As a person of faith, I found the naked honesty of your stories both stirring and convicting. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with me; you are wonderful and tirelessly patient teachers.

HMs:

Richard Edenfield, “My Little Church.” This piece painted an anti-Church in which a child’s spiritual life is developed not by human priests but by absent literary giants. The story’s substitutions – Oscar Wilde in place of Jesus, with 12 apostles including Camus and Whitman and their words serving as angels and choir – offered clever religious counterpoints in perfectly crafted synchronization. But it’s the final line that gives us the zinger, relaying the condemning, tragic, underlying truth of the narrator’s feelings: “..(T)he son is sometimes just as telling as the father.” So powerful.

StellaT, “Lucifer v God Almighty.” LOVED the voice of this one, the slow, wonderfully paced unveiling of the character’s true identity, along with her cunning, vicious plotting. So well done, funny and yet terrifying. Poor beautiful Linda Bell had better be careful; I don’t think the narrator’s going to be deconverting anytime soon.

2nd RU

Steph Ellis, “Silence.” OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH the world building!!!!!! Freak me out giddy over how good that is. And when I got to this sentence, it’s so good, so powerfully succinct, I actually yelped out loud. “Money has reclaimed its place in the temple.” This is the story of a near-future world in which religion is obsolete, and industry hurries society along, hurry hurry give me your money, having failed to realize (as the narrator does) that eschewing faith has left them with a gaping hole they are unable to fill. A university could design a semester-length course on the rippling depths of this story.

1st RU

AV Laidlaw, “The Belly of the Whale.” This story, both structurally and philosophically, gave us a wonderful matryoshka, removing layers only to find more beneath, the form of the church in which a pregnant woman sits contemplating her ex as a rebellious Jonah stuck in the whale. There’s so much going on in this story, I’d need an entire blog post to unwrap it: the layers of rebellion and shirking responsibility, the thing-within-a-thing-within-a-thing, oh goodness, just so much. And the irony of the last line: the narrator’s ex is the one who left her, but she is the one who is trapped. Complex, wonderful structure, and it’s a story ABOUT structure. Oh, I love this.

And our Round 78 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

David Shakes

with Knight to King’s Bishop 3

The story itself is simple enough: a dying agnostic’s confrontation of God, a lifetime of disappointment and bitterness standing in direct tension against the gaping question, “Where else can you go when the doctor says that’s it?” But the story’s simplicity belies its true, sophisticated form, set up (just as is described in its opening) as a life-sized chess match between a desperate humanity and an apparently silent Creator. The narrator’s questions pummel the cathedral’s vaulted ceilings in the face of such silence. His anguish over cancer and world hunger seem to be answered by decadence and apathy. And yet, in the end, the narrator’s stubble-topped head is matched in truth by a fresh-faced priest, and he finds his anger checked by laughter. Checkmate? No. Not yet. But… as he says himself, “Maybe I’ve a few moves left.” This story is utterly amazing: its voice, its structure, its intelligent strategizing. Reading this was like watching Kasparov. So very well done.

Congratulations, David! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickie. Next weekend you will all face the judging prowess of Brett Milam. Hope to see you there.

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