“Church Retreat, 1975” by Emily Pease of Williamsburg, Virginia, has been named by final judge Nick Ripatrazone (author of This Darksome Burn) as the recipient of the 2014 Bevel Summers Prize for the Short Short Story, sponsored by Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review. The judge’s citation for the winning entry is as follows:
“A haunting, finely-crafted scene that reverberates into the pasts and futures of all characters involved. Pease masters this short form with phrases and images that make the reader conclude these lives are worthy of a much longer narrative, and yet somehow this single sequence on the beach, where “no one missed” these two girls, wounds through its brevity.
The honorarium for the prize is $1000 and publication in Shenandoah. Of the story by runner-up Danilo Thomas (Tallahasses, FL) “Torque and Slippage,” Ripatrazone says, “The narrator assures that ‘we weren’t killers,’ but the sentence-to-sentence punch of this suggests otherwise. A troubling lyric representation of a descent into violence, and the questions that remain afterward.
“The Last Landmine” by Nancy Taylor (San Francisco) and “The Slades” by Melanie Faith (Mercersburg, PA) received honorable mention and will, with Thomas’s piece, be published in the fall issue of Shenandoah, scheduled for October. The entries to this year’s Bevel Summers contest numbered just over a thousand, and the 2015 contest will take place in the spring. Interested parties should watch the Prizes link on Shenandoah‘s website in 2015 for further information.
The contest is named for an evangelistic preacher in Flannery O’Connor’s story “The River” and for the boy who takes the preacher’s name. The fictional Summers’ method of baptism is full immersion, the method of the best short short stories.