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Saturday, November 13, 2004

gritLIT Short Story Contest Winner

The story Jewel Weed, by Hamiton writer Marilyn Gear Pilling, was chosen as the winner of the gritLIT short story contest. Over 70 stories were submitted to judges Trevor Cole, Rachael Preston and Daniel Coleman as part of the annual gritLIT writers' festival, Nov. 4 to 7.

Here is an brief excerpt from the story:

"Hubert Aquin is a major Quebec writer who committed suicide in Montreal in 1977 by blowing his brains out with a shotgun on the grounds of a girl’s convent school, and HA! is an eight hundred and seventy page book by Gordon Sheppard about his suicide. I read HA! this summer. All my friends are now reading HA! They have to, if they want to continue being my friends. Just kidding, but not really. The thing is, when I looked up from the last page of HA!, I was not the same person I’d been when I began it. It was that transforming. I had to tell everybody about this book.
I reply to Julie’s suggestion of a third chair by saying that “they” might not want us to put another chair at our little table. They probably want to keep the aisle clear so they can get by. “Maybe it’s a fire exit aisle, Julie.”
I can't believe those words came out of my mouth. I dislike people who stop others from doing things for reasons of ostensible “health and safety”.
Julie says she's going to ask anyway, and disappears. She wants to discuss HA! over lunch. She says it shook her up. I pull the book from my bag and let it land with a sudden thump on the table, the way Julie landed in my driveway, the way Hubert Aquin landed in the life of all his women.
Julie returns with a chair, which she places in the aisle facing our small table for two. The waiter said sure, she reports. I greet Hubert and move his chair closer to the table. Julie says she guesses it’s okay that I’ve moved the chair so close that it touches the table; Hubert must be pretty thin by now. Yes, I agree, he'll be skin and bones. Then I remember that his suicide was in 1977, and correct myself. Hubert will be bones. I say bones, and we laugh, but I think both of us are picturing Hubert the way he’s described in Sheppard's book. His distinctive eyes, nose, and cheekbones. His charming smile. The erotic charge he gave off."

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