How the slush gets sloshed (literary slush pile, that is)Last night I attended One Story's first One Author, One Drink Selected by that One Author reading -- Darin Strauss at Arlene's Grocery, which is not a grocery but a funky Lower East Side bar where the crowd is so young some of them still smoke (you have to stand outside to do it, which makes you more conspicuously, rebelliously young). Anyway, Darin was great -- touching story ("Good Health on Your Head"), good dramatic reading -- and the mojitos (Darin's choice) were pretty good, too. But the big thing is, I learned how the slush gets sloshed. I inserted myself into a conversation among three awkward young writers-to-be who turned out to all be MFA students and interns at One Story, the people who decide what's worthy to be passed on up to the editors. And in the case of the contest I just entered, to the final judge, who happens to be Darin Strauss. One of these kids said, "I give up on a story really quickly. If the first couple of sentences don't grab me..." (gesture). "Yeah, me too." "I always skip to the end, though. Sometimes the end is so weird, it makes you want to see how the writer got there." "Yeah."
So that's what we're up against, comrades. Got to grab the interest of the young, unpaid MFA interns, or the veteran literati will never see it.