Shoemaker's "Sonny Criss" wins a Pushcart
We are happy to announce that Jeanne Shoemaker’s short story “Sonny Criss” (41/2) has been selected for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. Shoemaker admits that she wrote the story to get out of writing an essay for a class called “Forms & Techniques of the Short Story.”
“Another student told me that in the previous year someone had submitted a short story in lieu of the essay. One of the suggested essay topics was The Western, so I wrote a 10,000-word western called ‘Sonny Criss’ instead of the 3,000-word essay—I felt like I’d really gotten away with something. My professor wouldn’t accept the story, however, and I had to negotiate with her. ‘How about 70% story, 30% essay?’ I suggested. Eventually, she agreed to 50/50. The essay part was terrible, but ‘Sonny Criss’ got me a fellowship to The Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2008. It was the first short story I ever wrote.”
But getting into a program wasn’t the same as getting into print, and Shoemaker would end up sending the story to over forty literary magazines, all of which rejected it, before it came to us.
“I kept sending it out because I felt I had something to say with this story, something I discovered while writing it. I had recreated a world that doesn’t exist any longer—a world I miss terribly. As a child I’d lived with my grandparents in Wyoming, and the characters of Delpha and Will are closely modeled on them, though the story is wholly fictional.”
“We can all be tricked by cleverness and other conceits. Writing with an open heart is hard to do. I wrote this story with an open heart.”