For our 2014 short-fiction contest - co-sponsored by the Bettendorf Public Library - we're celebrating banned and challenged books. Our 20 prompts are all drawn from famous (and sometimes infamous) novels that school boards, governments, or other arbiters of taste and morality didn't want people to read.
The deadline for entries is September 2.
We'll publish winners and favorites in the September 18 issue of the River Cities' Reader - just in time for Banned Books Week, which this year runs September 21 through 27.
We're also planning an event featuring readings of winning and favorite stories at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 25, in the Bettendorf Room of the Bettendorf Public Library. More details will be announced later.
A) Entries, including titles, must be 250 words or fewer - not counting the passage required in Rule G. The Reader's evil managing editor will make the final judgment on word count, so we recommend being careful or leaving some breathing room.
B) Entries must be typed.
C) Entries must include the author's name, mailing address, and daytime phone number.
D) Entries must be previously unpublished.
E) Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 2. We will accept submissions by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org with "Fiction Contest" as the subject line); mail (532 W. 3rd St., Davenport IA 52801, with "Fiction Contest" on the envelope); and fax (563-323-3101).
F) People may submit as many as five entries, but no more than one for any given prompt.
G) All stories must include one of the 20 passages below, culled from frequently banned or challenged books. Outside of using a given passage within the story, no fidelity or relationship to the source is required.
1) All right, then, I'll go to hell. (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain)
2) Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to the same thing. (Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence)
3) You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. (Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov)
4) She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. (Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston)
5) The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve. (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou)
6) I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year. (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee)
7) Let the wild rumpus start! (Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak)
8) And I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy. (The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
9) It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves. (Beloved, by Toni Morrison)
10) To have her here in bed with me, breathing on me, her hair in my mouth - I count that something of a miracle. (Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller)
11) Mothers are all slightly insane. (The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger)
12) He lost himself in a maze of thoughts that were rendered vague by his lack of words to express them. (Lord of the Flies, by William Golding)
13) I despise people who can't control themselves. (In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote)
14) The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea. (Ulysses, by James Joyce)
15) There, running across the parking lot, was a pudgy old guy in his underwear with a red cape flowing behind him. (The Adventures of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey)
16) It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials. (The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck)
17) Every time I conjure up a rock, I throw it. (The Color Purple, by Alice Walker)
18) I'd rather be fried alive and eaten by Mexicans. (James & the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl)
19) I'd cut up my heart for you to wear if you wanted it. (Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell)
20) I am by nature an inward man, he said silently into the disconnected phone. (The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie)