The Best Short Story I've Ever Read (Asterisk) Smackdown!


First, the asterisk: Thank you so much to everyone who played along, and for the extra effort it took (in some cases) (okay, not mine) to produce a real, live pie. You are all awesome, and I wish we could sit down together and eat and talk. I also have to thank everyone for bringing such thoughtful short story suggestions to the table. I can't wait to read!

Without (much) further asterisking: The winner of The Best Short Story I Have Ever Read (Asterisk) Smackdown is...

Sarah Hina!!!

Although it was a tight field, Sarah won the all-around based on our three "fluid, gooey" criteria: An adorable photo of her enjoying the pie she made (plus cuteness points for her daughter), an actual connection between her pie and her story, and a beautifully-written description of why Richard Bausch's "Letter to the Lady of the House" was the best short story she's ever read. Congratulations, Sarah!

And now her prize: Sarah will be receiving two "judge's choice" short fiction collections. Davin has selected The Laws of Evening by Mary Yukari Waters, and I have chosen Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. 

Sarah, if you could email me and let me know if you prefer e or real books, that would be great!

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

It's here! The smackdown!

For details, click here. The quick and dirty? Email me a picture of a pie you've made (jazobair AT comcast DOT net) to post here, and in the comments, make the case for the best short story you've ever read.  Bonus points for any pie/story connections.

It's not too late! Throw a pie together! Tell us about your favorite short story!

This submission comes from talented author Sarah Hina, with help from her adorable daughter. It is a lemonade pie. Now I wish we'd required everyone to submit a picture eating the pie (or throwing the pie or somehow acting on the pie). Clearly, Sarah is getting extra points for the action shot. The cute factor is fairly sky high as well.

And this is a cherry pie from Canadian writer/activist Richard Levangie. This? Is a very serious pie. This is the pie that made my children call my own pie "pathetic" and suggest I visit a bakery this morning. In fairness, I didn't use props with mine. Davin, can we get a ruling on the flowers? It seems to lend a certain Martha Stewart gravitas to his pie, and I may have to cry foul. Mostly because he is making me look bad.

This is a pie of unknown fabulousness from amazing photographer Catherine Vibert. It is gorgeous and looks like something that should be in a magazine. Of course, she is a professional photographer and this may be as big of an advantage as Richard's flowers and Sarah's daughter. Does anyone play fair these days?

What can we say about this submission from brilliant writer Davin Malasarn? It is a crustless bread  pudding "pie" that I cannot stop staring at. Because you know what? I don't like pie and I would eat that. Also, who are we to judge? And let's keep that thought in mind for the next pie, shall we?


And this is my pie. It is a chocolate pudding pie, and it is, actually, not the first pie I made yesterday. I made the first one and then--I kid you not--ate a huge piece BEFORE I took a picture. As though I forgot about the smackdown. In my defense, I am working on my copyedits? The first pie had graham cracker crust, which is the only crust I really like. This is an Oreo crust and pleases my children immensely.

Did I mention I don't like pie?

Photo used under a Creative Common License

Okay, this is picture was submitted by Indian writer/programmer Aniket Thakkar and is a "Raspberry Pi" which a credit-card-sized single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools. This? Is kind of cool. And creative. I might have to award some points. Especially if he can prove he made it.

This is a blueberry/raspberry pie from talented writer Scott G.F. Bailey . Note that it also looks like it could be in a magazine, and therefore makes my pie--to quote my kids--look (additionally) "pathetic." Who knew you all were such skilled pie makers? Seriously. And whose idea was pie??



To the comments!


  1. I would have said Richard's pie was gorgeous if he didn't blatantly cheat by using those flowers as a distraction tool. Anyone's pie would look that good with flowers in the frame. Right?

    My story: "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates.

    So, my struggle was that this story doesn't have that classic feel to it. But every time I think of it, more than any other story, it makes my mouth water, and it gives me the chills. It's the story of a girl named Connie, home alone, when a couple of strangers shows up at her door. Things turn bad. For me, it is the perfect example of a writer coming up with the most difficult situation to overcome and then overcoming it. The characters are branded in my brain. It's so good.

    1. I'm so glad we are on the same page about Richard's pie. In fact, I might crop those flowers out of his shot and into mine just to make the point.

      Okay, when you say "makes my mouth water and gives me chills" I am certain I am going to have to read this story. Like, as soon as I turn in my edits.

      Which doesn't seem like the spirit of smackdown, does it?

      It's early. I'll try to bring my A-game in a bit.

    2. Jennifer, If you crop those flowers and put them into yours, can you crop the pie and put that into mine?

      I think you will be impressed by this story. It's chilling though. You've been warned. Possibly you might be mad at me for asking you to read it.

    3. It's a good thing when I get mad at people after I read.

      I was really mad after MUDBOUND. And it's one of my favorite novels.

      That should be our next contest: Stories that will make people mad at your for recommending them. Plus Indian food. Because then I'd stand a chance against the Richards of the world.

    4. I suspect you would've already done this, if you had the technical skills of cropping and merging into yours. :)

    5. Frankly, Aniket, I was tempted just to switch my pie with Richard's. He's a nice guy. He probably would have kept quiet.

    6. Ooo...I have read this short story, and it is, in fact, awesome. Great choice, Davin. And great pie.

    7. Now I will need to read this story too. Thanks Davin! I'm also looking forward to reading YOUR stories, which I just bought yesterday. Looking forward to that, it's on the list after Wendy's book, which is just after I finish God of Small Things, which I'm closing in on the finish there. Best. Book. Ever.

    8. Ooh, Cat, you are going to LOVE Davin's collection. Seriously. The first and last stories are so powerful. And "Delores." Wow, wow, wow.

      In fact, I should interview Davin here. So we can all talk about him. I mean his work.

      We may have to talk about GoST, too.

      Get the beach house. For a week!

    9. I've been meaning to reread God of Small Things, so if you do a GoST smackdown (Yes, I assume everything you do will be a smackdown now), then count me in.

      Cat, thanks so much for checking out my stories! I really appreciate it. And, thanks, Jennifer, for saying nice things about them!

      Sarah, every time I reread Oates' story, I'm just amazed by the way she creates these two opposing sides, each trying to win, but they both come out of the same writer.

    10. I bet we'd be the first "GoST Smackdown" ever. But then I really could make the case for some Indian food pics. Of course, Aniket would just shoot something his grandma made and we'd all be toast.

      Maybe we should pencil this in after the holidays.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I totally agree with you that this story has power, that it can change minds. And it is beautifully written. I'm definitely impressed by this story.

    2. Sorry, Davin. I reposted my comment below.

      Do you know I've never seen the movie? And I don't know if I ever will. I just don't know.

  3. Mmmm...chocolate pudding pie... Funny but in all fairness, that one looks like the one I want to eat NOW. I know, it's very home made looking, but so? Yum.

    Ok, mine is Apples. And I had to muddle through an entire lifetime of stories to find which one is 'best' and frankly, I couldn't find one. I wanted it to be Ray Bradbury's Golden Apples of the Sun because obviously that one works best with my pie. Even Yeats would have been happy with me if I could have made it work. However, I reread the story last night and frankly, it's not my favorite. I did love me some Ray Bradbury when I was younger, ate up all his short story books like The Illustrated Man, in which all of the stories were inspired by the tattoos on said man, and I loved them. But when I read Golden Apples last night, I decided that I have so outgrown Ray's writing style that I could barely finish the five pages of hot and cold spaceshippy strangeness. So that leaves us with which is the best story ever and I'm afraid I have to go back to my Fairy Tale phase of the age of 8.

    Sadly I can't find the fairy tale in one of my four Dover colorful Fairy Tale books that I've been carting around since I was 8. Edited by Andrew Lang, but I know it's in there and will try to find it later after coming back from the movies (I'm going to see Cloud Atlas before it leaves the theatre, today's the last day). But the story is SO global that you can find versions of it all over the world. See here:
    It even inspired Shakespeare to write King Lear!! It goes something like this, a king asked his three daughters how much they loved him. One of them responded that she loved him as much as the apple in her eye. The second responded also about sweetmeats or some such other yummy thing, that she loved him that much. The third responded that she loved him as much as salt. SALT! Yeah, the king thought that sucked so he banished her and she was sent out to the jungle/desert/forest, or what have you depending on where the story was told.
    The king missed his daughter terribly, and of course the daughter who loved her father so very dearly wanted to figure out a way to make her father understand her love, and so she disguised herself as a kitchen maid and was able to get into the palace to make a meal for her father. She made sure that no salt was put on the meal. When her father tasted the food he demanded salt, as the food was tasteless and bland and not worth eating. At this point the princess revealed herself and the father was overjoyed as he understood the value of his daughter's words.

    For conversation's sake, I'll let you decide what the moral of this story is. And also, I gotta say, Richard's picture is the one I'd pick for the magazine. Oh My GAWD how beeeautiful! I'll be back tonight! Leave a piece of pie for me!

    1. First, you are very sweet and generous to say that about my pie. Extra points, but don't tell Davin.

      Second, I love that story. And with the apple of the eye part, a connection and more points!

      Cat is rocking this contest.

      And you and Richard could both be in a magazine with your baked goods. Completely serious. So gorgeous!

    2. This sounds a lot like King Lear, but happy. I agree that Cat is rocking the contest...if only we had judging criteria.

    3. I like to think of the criteria as "fluid," Davin.

    4. This king sounds like a douche.

      I think Cat deserves bonus points for putting Salt in such good light on a Pie event.
      And for a fabulous photography! You should have got Cat to do your author pics. You wouldn't have needed to photoshop them!

      Aherm, love the new look of the site. :) The site shouts that it belongs to a published author. :D

    5. I like to think of the criteria as "gooey," like pie filling.

      And, I agree that your new site is cool!

    6. Oh, and yes, there is salt in the pie too. Just a pinch...

    7. Yes. Gooey! Perfect.

      I wish Cat had done my author photos! Next time.

      And Wendy is responsible, of course, for the site. Did you notice the pink typewriters? DID YOU.

    8. I'm not surprised that Wendy did this, other than the fact that Wendy seems very busy. And it didn't register that the typewriters were pink, but that's rad!

    9. Cat gets extra points for apple pie being my favorite. Mmm...

      I agree that the short stories we read as kids often remain touchstones throughout our lives. It's an interesting idea: perhaps it's not only the story itself that's important, but the reader's age/situation when reading or hearing it. Maybe a short story, because it's short, can more fully embed in our memories (and at a younger age).

    10. I DID notice the pink typewriters, and it reminded me of the Kate Spade card you sent me. So that was Wendy's work, eh? Yay Wendy!

      Btw, Aniket, you're wrong about pictures I take not needing photoshop. All professional pics get at least a little help.

      This pie, by the way, is the gooiest apple pie EVER, because I slow cook it so those apples caramelize. Drool...

    11. I agree with you Sarah! And also due to the story's archetypal messages, especially in Fairy tales, which often find themselves told throughout the world in one form or another. They have implications far beyond the words, something metaphorical that we may not be able to fully grasp as children, but as we age we find ourselves finding meaning in those long ago stories that we didn't even know we were getting when we read them.

    12. I know you do use photoshop. Who doesn't? I use lightroom, a lot too.
      Was just teasing her, saying the pics by you wouldn't need any. They'll of course enhance the pic. It'll be complimentary but not mandatory.

    13. Lightroom rocks. I could probably handle all of Jens pic that I would shoot if she would just bring me there to shoot them, in Lightroom. But I might do a few tricks in Photoshop to make everyone feel like they can't take their eyes away and they don't know why. They'll think it's her, but it's magic...

  4. BTW, all you guys are online SALT.

  5. The best short story I have ever read (asterisk) is "Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Proulx.

    Re: the connection to the pie,I feel like Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist would chose a pie like this--cheap and simple.

    My reasons for choosing this story are both technical and sweeping. I find the description perfect, and not just because such vivid pictures are drawn, but because the drawing happens in a pitch perfect voice:

    "...his smile disclosed buckteeth, not pronounced enough to let him eat popcorn out of the neck of a jug, but noticeable."

    and Proulx's transitions are masterful:

    "...A slow corrosion worked between Ennis and Alma, no real trouble, just widening water."

    The voice, the detail, it is all perfect.

    But it is the story that grabs you by the throat. This is a powerful love story, and part of the power is that it is told in stark, urgent terms. We do not experience their love through a filter of flowery language. We experience their raw feelings as they do.

    We experience this story.

    And so when tragedy strikes, we experience that, too. And we are forced to do so through Ennis' pov, which is a mix of "matter of fact" and "punched in the gut." We are reeling, heartbroken, flatlined, along with him.

    Proulx does not sentamentalize. The part of the story that can bring you to your knees is rendered so subtly that it almost could be missed. You realize it as Ennis must, with a slow, unfolding despair.

    Or like Jack, you choke on it.

    Which is all to say that this story is executed perfectly. And this is where I editorialize: Because it is so perfect and powerful, I believe "Brokeback Mountain" has the power to change people's minds. I believe it has the power to humanize people who are too often seen as other.

    It's no secret that I prefer to read multicultural fiction, and that my debut novel falls within this genre. I think the best literature can lift a spirit and stir a heart, even in someone not inclined to be open to either.

    I believe it can do what laws and decrees cannot.

    I believe it can change minds and hearts.

    And I believe this story is one of the finest examples of that.

    1. THIS is how one wins the best short story smackdown.

      Beautiful examples of Proulx's artistry and a passionate championing of why fiction matters. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read this story. I will remedy that just as fast as I can.

      The movie is superb. But I understand why you're hesitant to watch it. When something means this much to you, it's unlikely that anything can match what's already in your heart. It almost feels like sacrilege to try it.

    2. My other comment is obviously no longer here, and that is as it should be... But as for this well written critique, now I MUST read this. I loved the movie so much, both times I saw it, and I'm an Ang Lee fan (sans Hulk) so I'm really glad it was him that had the reins in this movie. And I even own the soundtrack which sends me into a fit of tears whenever I read it, so yeah, I should read the story. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??

    3. Okay, I read this and it is, in fact, as phenomenal as you say it is.

      Now I want to watch the film again. Because I do think Ang Lee honored both the spirit and form of this story. And Heath Ledger IS Ennis.

    4. Wait, what?? You read the story? Yay! I hope you really did like it!

      And now you have me thinking that I probably need to watch the movie.

    5. Are you kidding?? I had to read it after your comment. HAD TO.

      I will say that I wished I'd read the story before seeing the film, because one can't help but be influenced by that interpretation. But I loved it all on its own.

      That moment you described is like a kick in the gut. And that last sentence is absolutely perfect.

    6. YES. That last sentence.

      After I read it, all I wanted to do was write a last sentence like that.

  6. My choice for best short story is Richard Bausch's "Letter to the Lady of the House."

    My first encounter with this story was Bausch's reading of it on NPR's "This American Life." ( I think the year was 2001 or 2002, when I was newly married. I have the vivid memory of my husband and I lounging around on a sunny Saturday morning, listening to Bausch's voice, my not moving a muscle except to make eye contact with Paul, who was also riveted, both of us not wanting this spell of words to be broken.

    Which is fitting, given the story's subject matter. A 70-year-old man writes his wife a letter in the middle of the night after a silly fight over pepper at dinner. He reflects on the sourness of their present situation by invoking the memory of past happinesses, including an impressionable childhood visit to his cousin's house after she was just married, before her relationship went to ruin. (In his memory, they drink lemonade. Hence the pie!)

    The narrator makes the case that though change may be the constant in life--and though bitterness is perhaps inevitable--he would do it all over again, for the chance to experience the lovelinesses of their journey, before their bitter end.

    Bausch's story is a simple one. I think his straightforward style suits the medium. For me, a short story should be like an arrow through the heart. Too many diversions or complications and I start to want the broader scope a novel affords. I want to be held enthralled to a short story, I want to finish it in one sitting. "Letter to the Lady of the House" is riveting because it's universal. We all want to keep certain moments alive forever. But the only way to do it is through the prism of memory, which inevitably brings with it comparisons to the present and, regretfully, a sense of loss more than pleasure.

    Bausch's take is much more sweet than bitter. In fact, it's downright beautiful.

    Plus? It's the only story I've ever read that makes my cry every time. Without fail. Every time.

    1. Now, I have to look up the story. If it's as good, as the way you describe it, I'd be very content reading it.

      As if you weren't a frontrunner with the pic, this description ought to put you high up in the race. This is a race, right?

      You recommend gud. I still keep going back to the David Foster Wallace article you sent me, and have also sent many friends to it since.

    2. Word verification : Paithos
      How apt!

    3. Seriously, click on that link up there (which I now realize is not a hyperlink). Listen to Bausch reading it. I think it gains something.

      The pic! I already told Jennifer this: I actually had it in my head that we had to post a pic of someone eating the pie. Our daughter really wanted to be involved, so it all worked out, but I didn't know I'd be the only one showing my face! Martha Stewart I am not.

      And seriously? Richard's pie puts all of ours to shame. That thing is gorgeous.

    4. I love your pic for having your face! We all should have done that. Next time, with the Indian food! :)

    5. I love your description of this story, but even more I love how you describe you and Paul listening to it.

      As for the crying, when Davin and I were discussing this contest and he was challenging my selection a bit, he said what about Ms. Lahiri (because, I assume, he knows I adore her work). And I do adore it. But my response was that Jhumpa Lahiri has never made me cry. The novels and stories I love best are the ones that do.

    6. Wow, I totally want to read this now. I was riveted by your description Sarah. Especially the eye contact with Paul while listening. I absolutely love radio and this is the very reason I love it. It is perfection as a medium for storytelling. I'm going to listen to this when I come back from the movies.

  7. As much as I'd love to have bonus points, I did not create Raspberry Pi. I could create some cool things with it though.

    I think we are all in agreement that I've lost the Pie contest, it's time for revealing my favorite short story:

    It's "New" -

    This was the second "New" story posted by Sarah. Not only I liked it more than her first one, this post established a trend that she would be posting a "New" story as her first post each year. This went straight up on my list for things to look forward to in a new year.

    Another one of my favorites, by her, is:

    I'd love to have such a conversation with a girl someday, and would love to have the same bucket loads of emotions, this post brings me. Brilliant, brilliant writing.

    A couple others that I love are by Frederick Forsyth: The Miracle and There Are No Snakes In Ireland, but I don't think there's a legally available online link for anyone to read them. One would have to buy his book. :)

    P.S. It was fun to look for the one I liked most on Sarah's blog. I can't believe I actually wrote LOL and ROFL as comments on one of her posts, years ago. I always claimed that I never did that! I must've blocked that time completely from my memory.

    1. I am sure that I've read these, but of course I am going to have fun going back to read them again. I think once I got to know Sarah and her writing, I went back and read all of her stories. So talented. And I think she writes stories that fit her own criteria.

    2. I'm not even going to go back and read those old stories of mine, because I'll probably be mortified.

      But thank you. I'm only slightly embarrassed, and mostly honored. I love to know that what I wrote meant something to you. That era truly was a golden time. Not only because of the passion I had for blogging and writing, but because I became friends with you and Cat and Jennifer and so many others.

      Everything was "New" then. And wonderful. No LOL about it. ;)

    3. I love Sarah's new stories as well. And I do miss those blogging days. Not enough to go back, but so grateful that through blogging, we all met and became salt together.

    4. Same goes for me. I went back to read everything from the start, after reading a couple of her stories.

      I still love her writing as I did some years back. As far as writing goes, I don't think I'd be able to make out if she's written something now, or some time back.

      There are a few old posts that are more "free" though. Before, she became a published author and whatnot.

    5. There are multiple stories mentioned here. I'm just saying.

    6. I have mentioned which one is my favorite.

      No harm giving a mention to other good ones when you have a platform to do so, right?

    7. Ha! I didn't even notice. Sneaky Aniket.

      And?? I totally forgot we were supposed to mention seconds at Davin's blog!

      I've really let this contest get away from me. We should have had a lawyer retained to enforce the rules.

      (I mean seriously. There were only two rules.)

    8. Don't know if you know, Aniket, but I work with a bunch of nerds at a tech support help line. I asked a colleague if he wanted to see the pie I baked. And?

      I'm scrolling back from the comments to show him my entry and he gets all excited. "Go back, go back!" he yells.

      "Somebody posted raspberry pi! Very, very clever!"

      So you've won kudos from the geeks at SMART Technologies. :-)

    9. Finally! Someone who appreciates! :)
      Give my regards to this wise colleague of yours.

      Jenny was all - "WTF is this! I asked for a pie!"

  8. I thought a while about the JC Oates story Davin mentions, as well as "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings" by Garcia Marquez, but I kept coming back, of course, to Chekhov. Chekhov is my favorite story writer, and of the 400 or so he wrote there are too many masterpieces but I will force myself to claim

    "The Lady With the Little Dog"

    as my the best short story I've ever read (asterisk). It has all the great Chekhov stuff: the characters who are unhappy with lives they've sleepwalked into and want out, the unsentimental narrative showing people who are real rather than "sympathetic," and the indeterminate ending. "The Lady With the Little Dog" is one of the few Chekhov stories that points toward a real happy ending, though that's not a given, just a possibility.

    We had a pumpkin pie but we ate it before we could take photos. Now we have banana bread but it's mostly gone, too.

    1. Scott, thanks for coming!

      And maybe you saw that I ate my first chocolate pie before I got a picture.

      So I understand.

      I,too, like this selection. And I have to admire any story where I am not inclined to like a particular character, but then find myself rooting for things to work out for him.

    2. Chekhov reminds me to be kind, because each of us has our particular sorrows.

      Thanks for hosting this!

      I have photos of other pies we've made. Just not the most recent pie.

    3. Scott, I think you should offer up a pie photo, even if it's an old pie. Even if it's not a pie at all. I think I've read this story at least four times.

    4. Yes, old pie is better than no pie. I mean, if you like pie. And if we're talking about pictures.

      This is the story in the collection of his work with the corner folded down. I'm sure Scott would fold down many, but this is the one I folded.

    5. I just emailed Jennifer a photo of a pie I baked a while ago.

    6. This is another professional-looking pie!

      Is this a thing? Pie making? Davin???

    7. As vice-co-co-chair of this smackdown, I second the nomination herewith that pie making is a thing.

    8. Thanks, Scott. I'm making it a point to pick this one up.

  9. I'm swamped at work, so I can't argue my case as persuasively as my friends here — who are presenting some incredible works of short fiction with beautiful, and moving prose of their own.

    Color me impressed.

    And now that I've learned my pie has been excommunicated during earlier proceedings, I have no hope of avoiding being smacked down hard. I would just like to say that I'm giving multiple copies of books by of each judge to members of my family at the appropriate times.

    I hope that I've made myself clear. I can do cash, too.

    I'm offering A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote.

    It's lovely. For me, it's just a bittersweet story of two lonely misfits — more half a century apart in age — who find simple joys and friendship in their seasonal Christmas baking ritual.

    Capote tells the story starkly, with little embellishment, yet I find it piercingly, achingly beautiful.

    See if you agree.

    1. I should have also mentioned that a quick Google search will call up audio files, and you can hear the author read this lovely little gem.

    2. Richard, this is a pretty good case for someone who is swamped at work. Hmmmm. Maybe the "swamped" part is like the flowers. (I submit it to you, Davin.)

      I have not read this story, but now I want to. And that is really the point of this. Not humiliating myself with my sad little pie, but finding new stories to be excited about.

      I appreciate your taking time to stop by, Richard, and we all are in awe of your pie!

    3. I'm pounding a gavel somewhere for some particular reason!

    4. This one's opened in a tab and waiting for me to read it. Can't wait!

      Except? I sort of hope it's not that great since you're so clearly leading in the pie portion of this contest. That crust! It really is beautiful, Richard.

    5. In truth, Sarah, I thought you were leading because of the aforementioned cuteness factor. Your daughter is adorable. (In italics because I said it the French way).

      Thanks for the kind words about dessert! Learning how to crimp provided a profound leap in my presentation skills — and it's always about presentation — but I don't cut any corners on prep either. The cherries do come a jar, but I make and spice the pie filling myself, and fresh lemon and lime juice always makes an appearance. If I do say so myself, it's pretty darn good, Ms. Zobair's comments not withstanding. I have a deft hand with raisin, mincemeat, and Shaker lemon pie, too

    6. I know you didn't say "rasin," Richard. Or "mincemeat." Or "spice the pie filling."

      Maybe we should talk about cake.

  10. She drew her shoulders up and sucked in her breath with the pure pleasure of being alive, and just at that moment she happened to glance at a face just a few feet from hers. It was a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold. He stared at her and then his lips widened into a grin. Connie slit her eyes at him and turned away, but she couldn't help glancing back and there he was, still watching her. He wagged a finger and laughed and said, "Gonna get you, baby."

    1. Whoa! Are you smacking down with some actual prose from your selection???

      Nicely played, Malasarn.

    2. It's round 2! I'm ready for some smacking!

  11. After a while she heard a car coming up the drive. She sat up at once, startled, because it couldn't be her father so soon. The gravel kept crunching all the way in from the road—the driveway was long—and Connie ran to the window. It was a car she didn't know. It was an open jalopy, painted a bright gold that caught the sunlight opaquely. Her heart began to pound and her fingers snatched at her hair, checking it, and she whispered, "Christ. Christ," wondering how bad she looked. The car came to a stop at the side door and the horn sounded four short taps, as if this were a signal Connie knew.

    1. Oh my God. Was there a movie based on this with Laura Dern??

    2. Smooth Talk! Loosely adapted, it says.

    3. Yes! I've seen that. And now I'm imagining just how well done the short story would be.

      Yes. I'll probably be mad at you. And yes, I am absolutely going to read it.

  12. You like me! You really like me!

    Wow, I was not expecting this! I didn't even prepare a speech. I kind of thought Richard owned this competition after seeing that spectacular pie pic. So first off, I'm grateful to my daughter for upping the cute quotient. I never could have done it on my own. I think we all know this.

    I also want to extend my gratitude to Jennifer and Davin for hosting this contest. It really was a lot of fun, and I think all of our families could appreciate the pie tie-in. Everyone except my son, who deeply laments the fact that I didn't make an apple pie like Cat did.

    I'm extraordinarily grateful for the books! Which I will be happy to take as ebooks. I was not expecting that at all--you guys are way, way sweeter than pie.

    And lastly, I just want to say that I'm happy we did this because now I have several more great stories to read. It's a privilege being friends with people who have such good taste.

    Next time, I'll host a best poem smackdown. Everyone dress as your favorite died-too-young poet. I call Keats!

    1. "Wow, I was not expecting this! I didn't even prepare a speech" --Yeah, yeah. You took all but two seconds to come up with one, right?

      o_O <- This is my look of surprise.

      Since when did you switch from paper books to e-books? Et tu, Sarah?

    2. psst...I was trying to be easy. :) (Though I don't mind ebooks now. Maybe Paul's rubbed off on me.)

    3. Richard was a pretty close second. I mean, come on. THAT PIE. If he'd gone the extra mile with an action pie shot or a cute kitten or something, we might have had a tie. Taken one in the face, and he might just have pulled ahead.

      As for our families enjoying the pie tie-in, last night after dinner I took out the pie and my 9-year-old son looked at it for a minute and then said, "I'm not really a pie person."

      I tried not to weep.

      I am so there for your poets thing. As Sylvia Plath, naturally.

    4. Now I really want to do this.

      Because I really am that macabre.

    5. I couldn't even get out of bed due to not even coming in second. I mean, honestly, what would a pie be without SALT! I bet you all had salt in your pies. Hrrrrmph... bah humbug, now to go eat some humble pie.

      Honestly, can't get the eyelock image out of my mind. Sarah deserved to win, and I know now that she and Sally Fields will make great friends. ;-)

    6. Oh, e-books rule by the way. Since I started reading them, I actually READ. It was that extra step of trying to find reading glasses in my absolute disarray somewhere near the book that was getting in my way. ebooks don't require organization, as long as I can find the damned ipad, I'm good... God forbid the grid should go down forever...

    7. Just like Richard (although he tried with those flowers) you should have added some serious cuteness and/or action to your perfect pies!

      But seriously. Those pies are perfect. As were your contributions here, Ms. Vibert. Color me impressed and grateful to have such wonderful and talented friends to discuss these things with.

  13. Phooey! My Perfect Day for Bananafish Creme Pie never left the planning phase. Talk about an arrow through the heart-- that story destroys me. BEAUTIFUL PIES, GUYS! I have some stories to catch up on!! Sarah, I'm glad for a glimpse of your Jo March haircut, aware as I am that it's growing out as we speak. My plan is to listen to Letter to the Lady with my husband, just as you did...

    1. June's here! June's here!

      Now The Great Pie Smackdown of 2012 has a happy ending!

      Please DO listen to that story with your hubby. I know you'll adore it.

    2. June IS here! Yay!

      Now, I feel like we need to start over.

      Kidding, kidding. But thanks for dropping by, June!

      I've wanted to read Salinger's short fiction, and now I'm going to add this to my list. Thanks!

    3. Sarah- Darn these office distractions! I'd intended to change "husband" to "darling." Now reread with prescribed change so it sounds prettier...

      Jaz- PLEASE read Bananafish soon (it's a SHORT short) and send me immediate feedback still warm from your oven of angst...

    4. June, my copyedits are due on the 19th, and then, as I live and breathe, I am reading all the stories here that I have not read. Immediatly.

      You will hear from me. From my oven of angst! :)