Victoria Patterson's excellent work of fiction Drift--which is composed of 13 intertwining stories about people struggling to eke out existences in Newport Beach and surrounding communities--is a finalist for The Story Prize.
Now in its sixth year, The Story Prize is an annual award for books of short fiction. The three finalists were selected from among 78 story collections from 53 different publishers or imprints.
"It's a HUGE honor," Patterson writes in an email to the Weekly. "I'm terribly excited! . . . The other finalists are already big names in the literary world."
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Those big-name finalists are Daniyal Mueenuddin and Wells Tower. Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W.W. Norton), which is about a vast estate in feudal Pakistan, is also a finalist for a National Book Award. Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which follows eccentric characters in problematic relationships, is a finalist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. But Drift is no slouch, having been named one of the best 100 books of 2009 by the San Francisco Chronicle's John McMurtrie.
Patterson says she plans to fly to New York to hear The Story Prize winner announced March 3 at the New School's Tishman Auditorium. The winner receives $20,000 and each runner-up is awarded $5,000.
Drift is one of those books you can't put down. It looks at the people on the fringes in Newport Beach, whose stereotypical inhabitant is the plastic, the trophied and the nouveau riche. Patterson's stories show you don't have to be a juvie from Chino to feel out of place in the OC. Patterson's main character is Rosie, who is first introduced in a tragicomedy story about her landing a job at a stuffy Newport restaurant. Subsequent stories jump around in time and character focus like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Perhaps the most sympathetic character is a young, skateboarding, brain-damaged stoner and squatter named John Wayne.
Patterson grew up in Newport Beach but now resides with her family in South Pasadena. She received her MFA from UC Riverside, and her short fiction has appeared in the Santa Monica Review, Florida Review, and Snake-Nation Review, among other publications.