National Book Award finalist and Montana-based author Thomas McGuane (Driving on the Rim, Gallatin Canyon, Ninety-two in the Shade) is final contest judge. Other judges include, but are not limited to, Kevin Stewart (The Way Things Always Happen Here, WVU Press), poet Loren Graham (Mose, Wesleyan University Press) novelist Don Rearden (The Raven’s Gift, Penguin Canada), poet Anne Bauer (Fine Absence, Pavement Saw Press) and the Vigilante’s editor/publisher, Shane Castle, whose short stories have appeared in Indiana Review and Black Warrior Review.
The authors of the stories I looked at have every reason to consider themselves real writers. Their commitment to language and coherent narrative really impressed me. While there is no great commercial market for short stories these days, some of the best work done in narrative fiction is being done by short story writers. It seems to be the medium of writers dedicated primarily to the art of literature, whatever the economic consequences. I don’t think it is too much to say that the cutting edge of American literature these days is owned by short story writers and that this has been the case since the breakthrough work of Raymond Carver, John Cheever and Alice Munro. The short story has always been the characteristic American literary form. I hope the writers of the stories I have read for this event will continue to feel they are on the right track.