The distinguished editor and publisher Shannon Ravenel has selected Chapel Hill resident Howard Carter’s story, “Mr. Mason’s Request,” as the winner of the 2009 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize from the N.C. Writers Network. Ravenel picked “Dickhead” by Anne Barnhill of Garner as the first runner up, and “Shack on Fire” by Bill Morris of Durham as the second runner up. The winner will receive a prize of $1,000 from the Network, and all three stories will be considered for publication by The Thomas Wolfe Review.
Ravenel selected the winners from a group of nine finalists sent to her by preliminary judge, David Radavich of Eastern Illinois University. The other six finalists were Samantha Talley of San Antonio, TX, for “The Mermaids Singing”; C. Stuart Wright of Ruffin, NC, for “Murdering Edna”; Ann McMurray Simpson of Knoxville, TN, for “Robert’s Shadow”; Julia Davis of Durham, NC, for “Revive Us Again”; Kurt Corriher of China Grove, NC, for “The Caretaker”; and Robert McCall of Saluda, NC, for “Ash Wednesday.”
Ravenel, the editor of The Best American Short Stories series for 13 years and the founding editor, with Louis Rubin, of Algonquin Press, praised Carter’s story: “Based on a brilliant premise, this story is perfectly executed to make the most of that premise and convincingly characterize the three players.” Carter, having retired from Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL, is now adjunct professor of Social Medicine, College of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill, and, part-time, a massage therapist specializing in cancer patients. He has written articles, poems, stories and full-length books about ways in which literature and the humanities can help medical patients. He has an A.B. in Humanities from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Comp. Lit from the University of Iowa, with supporting courses in the Writers’ Workshop.
Anne Barnhill, the first runner-up for “Dickhead,” is the author of a memoir, At Home in the Land of Oz: Autism, My Sister and Me. Her short story collection, What You Long For, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Publishing Co. in May of this year. She holds an M.F.A. in creating writing from UNC-Wilmington. Ravenel calls her story “a daring first person narrative that overcomes what could have turned raunchy or crude. Originality and finesse work beautifully here.”
Bill Morris, the second-runner up for “Shack on Fire,” writes a story, says Ravenel, “about place and its hold on human beings” in which “setting is the protagonist, and the author manages the twist nicely.” He divides his time between Durham and the soundside village of Straits in “Down East” Carteret County. The Core Sound area is the setting for his first novel, Saltwater Cowboys, as well as for his story, “Dinah’s Dog,” the winner of the 2003 Doris Betts Prize for short fiction.