Monday, June 29, 2009

Winner and Shortlist

After wading through more than 75 submissions, the three of us have finally settled, after much deliberation, on a winner. Winnowing the list proved much harder than we expected: the quality of the submissions was excellent. Our shortlists attest to the difficulty we had selecting a winner: they are almost completely different. So, in the interest of full disclosure, we've decided to publish our individual shortlists. We want to thank everyone for submitting, and we hope that you had as much fun writing your Revenge-Lits as we had reading them.

For its style, humour, playfulness, voice, and the tightness of its presentation, we've agreed the the best of the RevengeLit submissions was:

The Eternal Remainder: by Charles Conley

The Shortlists:

Terry Griggs:

The Case of Poe Ethic Justice: by Albert Howard Carter III

Blind Judge: by Nathaniel Moore

Murder, Deconstructed: by Barbara Eliasson

Julie Wilson:

Special K to Kill by Karin Montin

A Rose by Any Other Name by Jackie Kingon

Writing Lessons by Lydia Ondrusek

Dan Wells

Blind Judge: by Nathaniel Moore

Career Best: by Nathaniel Ward

How To: by Fred Fawnicoly

Charles Conley will be receiving a $100 cash prize, publication in issue 77 of CNQ, and a Biblioasis catalogue of 40 (or so) titles. Congratulations to Charles and all of the shortlisted entrants!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


by Sheial Sims

The daily Toronto Galaxy devoted the front page to the death of their star literary critic. “HACK MURDERED” amused the authors in the underground blog group, Silence the Hack.

One author a week, one book at a time, anyone of the 750+ writers, he had ‘hacked’ to bits with his critical reviews over his 14 ½ year career were to become suspect.

Word spread through texts, emails, faxes and the occasional archaic form of communication - the actual phone conversation.

“Hack’s dead, Denis is opening the Club to celebrate with a 10 am bonfire.” Jubilantly they coursed to Club Defamation.

Meetings with editors were cancelled en masse, deadlines delayed as writer’s joined the victory group. Symbolically they brought personal copies of Sebastian Hack’s way with their words and an eerily accurate effigy.

Will Ferguson, who had succeeded despite Hack’s lack of warmth, was unanimously elected emcee. His toast to the dead critic summed up everyone’s feelings.

“Hack, true to his name never wrote an honest word in his life. Although no one’s friend he was a name on our lips and death lists. My sympathies to those of you whose life works were ended by Hack’s pen.” Sniffles and outright sobs rippled as the truth of Ferguson’s words pierced people’s pain.

“Fellow writers raise your glass to whomever, bravely deleted an unnecessary character, in our common plot. The Galaxy & the Force may never know the real killer, but through reading the works he critiqued, we will know the truth.”

Myron's Gift

by Brenda Meier

“Darling!” Myron held a dining room chair out for Frances. The table was set with her old damask cloth and the good dishes. He hummed.
“What’s the occasion?” Myron never fussed about or pulled out her chair. It was typically Frances’s job to throw together a meal every night, even though Myron was semi-retired.
Myron put his finger to his lips and grinned. “Back in a flash!” He disappeared into the kitchen.
He worked the champagne cork with a tea towel. Thok! Who knew Myron had such an expert wrist flick? He filled glasses and took a seat opposite Frances.
“Well, it’s done. I’ve killed him,” said Myron, leaning back in his chair looking like the cat who’d killed the canary.
Champagne spurted through Frances’s nostrils and sprayed her shirt. “What? Did you say killed, Myron?” Champagne slopped over the edges of Frances’s flute.
“Frances, Frances,” Myron cooed. “Don’t you remember saying you wished that old coot would f-off and die?” Myron-Weight-of-the-World Schepanski twirled the stem of the glass in his fingers. “That Journal review. What nerve! Slagging a home town gal.”
“Ohmygodohmygod,” Frances wailed, guzzling the remainder of her drink.
“Un momento!” Myron trilled and escaped again, strangely elated. Generally obsessed by his own concerns, Frances hadn’t realized Myron had registered the sting of that biting book review.
He appeared with a flourish and two plates of coq au vin. “Didn’t take much to discover where Percy Cavendish parked,” Myron mused and served her a leg. Frances refilled. “I hope you don’t mind I used your Jeep, Frannie. Crushed him against a brick wall in the alley.”
“You wouldn’t believe how many runs I had to take at the old fellow,” Myron said and clinked her glass. Frances regretted trying to save money by using public transit.

by Lulu Benjamin
Everyone knows literary critics lack true creative juice, which they mask with unmitigated nastiness about the creativity of others. Lionel Zimmerman was no exception. He called my self-published memoir the “… sentimental, self-aggrandizing, whinging of a dilettante biddy who’d do us all a favor if she confined her mutterings to her overfed cat.” I suspected he’d used those bloated descriptors before and told him so when we crossed paths at a gallery opening. With his effete eyeglasses and waxed moustache, I recognized him immediately. “Oh really?” he said, “I presume you’re the spinster author’s noble defender?” Apparently, my jacket photo doesn’t do me justice.

“Assuming female cat owners lack carnal knowledge is pitifully cliché,” I said.

“You’re either a natural coquette or you’re toying with me.”

When I didn’t answer – how could I? – he murmured, “Ah so,” and began to ply me with champagne. By evening’s end I was granting him limited favors in the back of my Corolla parked in the F Street ramp. We fully consummated our dalliance a week later in a remote county park. I brought champagne and teacakes to mark the occasion.

After six weeks, he ended it with a phrase lifted from my own memoir: “What we had was complex and fragile – like a snowflake.” Galling, but a literary critic’s memory must get muddled.

A month later, he was found dead, sprawled under our tree in the remote county park. At first they suspected foul play. His trousers were undone; a champagne bottle, two glasses, and soggy teacakes littered the stormy scene. No witnesses came forth, but the coroner declared Lionel the victim of a lightning strike. Although it was undeniably original, few mourned his passing.

Tribute to the Imagined Whores of Gustavo Baudelio

by Eric Lind

“The Imagined Whores of Gustavo Baudelio” was, without doubt, my greatest success – the novel that finally brought interest to the previous two. Its triumph was due in no small part to the notable critic and essayist, Stanley Fischer, who celebrated my book in his enthusiastic review. Excessively, I thought, or at least that’s what I said in public. My book, Stanley wrote, explored the fringes of sexual behavior, violently, through a series of polyphonic narratives about the indecencies performed by the disturbed writer, Gustavo Baudelio. It is true that Baudelio used the sexual transactions to, in a sense, write life onto the pages of grotesque behavior that filled his notebooks. He believed that he had to witness (Stanley would say execute) the act itself before it could appear in its purity through language. It – the act, the image, the sensation – had to be dragged into the unknown and then followed back so he may write it (Stanley would say so he was obliged to write it). It was mechanical for Baudelio, a means. Yet Stanley wrote an inspired defense of Baudelio’s imprudence on poetic grounds, something about life and fiction cross-pollinating, something about giving language a body. In any case, I wasn’t particularly surprised to read in the paper the terrifying account of Stanley Fischer’s murder, with an editorial tribute to his distinguished career. The public is poorer that he is not with us to review the new novel I was obliged to write, about the murder of a critic.

Fermented Frustrations

by Steven Le

It was still dark when she woke, and her naked thigh had slipped outof the covers due to the warmth of the night. She moved it back,pulled the blanket to her chest and turned to gaze at the man on thefar wall. A finger of moonlight breached the curtains, illuminating anoaken desk with its glow, and finally highlighted the cheekbones ofthe man’s face. He was clanking away on a typewriter. She stared athim, longingly, trying to telegraph her euphoria to get his attention.

“Walt, come back to bed,” the woman said, as the blanket sloped downthe curve of her breast and exposed it. “Or turn on the light orsomething. Staring in the dark hurts your eyes. My sister justfinished her second year at Berkeley, she knows this kind of stuff.”

“I’m almost finished.”

“Really? Oh my, thats great! I thought you said you were only halfway? It doesn’t matter. Come when you’re done.” And the woman placedher arms underneath the blanket and slithered her legs around,shifting the silk sheets about her body. Her voice whimpered and herbody writhed.

“I can feel it,” Walt said. “A year of work, of heart, and then tofinally set it out there. It’s going to be great. I know it.‘Ingenious’ they’ll all say. Every one of them.”

“I’m sure they will,” the woman said and fell asleep.

To Show the World Its Dead

by David Backer
The crowd stood around the halo of blood. None of them could believe it. But I could. I was the one that pushed Henrietta Macadam out the window of her office on the 22nd floor. I killed her but I didn't kill her. The publishing industry was dead long before I decided to go to her office. Long before I decided to retrieve my rejected manuscript and, once there, to end her life, to draw the curtains on "the Critic of our times," the name all the book reviews gave her, rapturously capitalizing her title as if she represented all of criticism and thereby the definition of literature. Its no coincidence I made it look like a suicide. Macadam's literary machine killed itself. Run by oligarchic circles of publishers and critics owned by corporations of the unliterary, all incestuously sipping cocktails among stacks of unread manuscripts, leaving the words of geniuses without an audience, so that the shelves of Borders and Barnes and Noble could be full off books about how to get less fat, books about Donald Trump, books about Donald Trump's books, their only goal was to sell more and more of the smut, until the essence and substance of the literary world--lipsticked, drunk on martinis from the latest cocktail hour, steeped to its neck in a hell of its own vanity--was forced (first figuratively, now literally) to throw itself out the window of its own skyscraper. Macadam the Critic, Madam Literature, was dead already. All I did was show the world this truth.
This is why writers write: to show the world its dead.
So I was content as I walked away from the crowd of on-lookers and reporters, all gasping at the sight of the critic's blood-stained high heels fit like punctuation to the ends of her snapped legs. Yes. I was happy to see a worthy story getting an audience.