Monday, April 01, 2013

Reader's Diary #974- Becky Blake: The Three Times Rule


This is what a 3 looks like.
When I went to read this year's Canada Writes winner— the annual CBC short story writing contest— I was told by the jury panel that Becky Blake's "The Three Times Rule"
portrays a woman who finds emptiness and sadness when she reaches for love. She strives to be tough-minded but is besieged by distressing thoughts about her past as she finds herself in the arms of a man who means nothing to her. The story unfolds with subtlety, understatement and lyricism, and leads us to hope for better days for the protagonist even as we admire the clarity of her vision.
and I have to say, I wasn't particularly excited to read it. It's sounds depressing and dull, doesn't it? Emptiness? Subtlety? Aren't those the top two ingredients in all CanLit?

But I read it anyway and they're right. And yet, I enjoyed it! It is all those things they say it is, but somehow the description doesn't do it justice. It has "adult" themes, if the quotation marks help sell it more. It's not a drawn out affair; it may be subtle but it still has a point and gets to it mercifully fast. The characters feel real. The setting feels real. The jurors' description implies a certain level of pretension that thankfully just isn't there.

Speaking of pretension, as winner of this year's Canada Writes contest, Blake's story will appear in the awful, awful enRoute Magazine. She will also win $6000 and a two week writing residency at the Banff Center. I congratulate her on the money and the residency, but you should read her story online instead.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

5 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are right, the description is not particularly appealing. They should just get you to write all book summaries!

Loni said...

I would not have read that story based on the summary, but I will based on your review.

I read a Woolf story this week.
http://loniseye.blogspot.ca/2013/04/solid-objects-by-virginia-woolf.html

Allison said...

I agree with Barb, you should write all the summaries.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: If they want to pay me to do that, I want to let them.

Loni: I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Allison: It'll cost 'em!

Loni said...

I read it last night. I loved the first line. It was a really great story. The blurb does nothing for it, it even makes it seem unappealing. They need to hire better blurb writers.