Eric Hoffer  
for Short Prose & Independent Books
 
 

Eric Hoffer Prose Award Winners

Previous winners of the Eric Hoffer Award for short prose are listed below. We respectfully ask that you give fair use when quoting our award-winners. Please use: "Best New Writing: The Eric Hoffer Award."

Best New Writing includes all of the winning stories, as well as selected finalists. To help support our annual effort, you may purchase a copy of Best New Writing online or at better bookstores.

The Short List

Each year a small group of finalists is isolated for the grand prize round of judging. This is known as the "short list," which is announced publicly in the summer of each award year.

 

2014

Winner
The Lamp Shop by Chris Fryer

My wife, she is beautiful, and even in the dark I can feel her frowning when she says, “Do not go today. You should not be working.” I touch the side of her face and she kisses my palm, holding my hand to her cheek. Perhaps I should stay. Already we can hear the bombs of the revolution. I take back my hand and I kiss her lips, but she does not kiss back and she does not say anything when I leave.

The city is drenched in gunpowder. My wife fills the house with the smoke of incense to try and mask the smell, but the smell is everywhere. Everywhere you look, there has been violence there. Overturned, burnt-out vehicles. Everywhere you step, empty bullet casings. A splash of blood. A half-burned rebel pamphlet. The stone walls of the city are scarred by shrapnel, windows shattered by stones, the beauty of the city pulled to the gutter and soaked in kerosene.

Editor's Choice Award
Monkey Bars by Maija Makinen
Seven Degrees of Bogus by Ilan Herman
Young Zombies in Love by Kyle Garret
Gravitational Variations by Paul Loomis

 

2013

Winner
Only by the Spear that Smote You by Nina Leo

Day 1. I stand lost amidst the green vegetables contemplating the meal I will make the next day. There will be ten of us to celebrate my brotherís birthday and I want to make something that everyone will enjoy. I find it difficult to focus my attention, tired from performing too many mundane tasks, but finally decide on pasta shells filled with ricotta cheese, Swiss chard and wild mushrooms, though I should have made the sauce yesterday.

Editor's Choice Award
The Boy in the Blue Sweater by Emily Reardon
The Map of Bihar by Janet H. Swinney
Knitting the Unraveled Sleeves by James Lloyd Davis
Taha’s Peace by Bint Arab

 

2012

Winner
Peep Show by Louise Beech

The man in the apartment below sports black, thinning hair, smokes endless Marlboros and has perhaps the smallest penis Iíve ever seen. Other than my husband Simonís, Iíve not seen many, so I may be an inadequate judge. The hair above it is wilder than that which tries to grow on his shiny head and thicker than the spikes that sprout aggressively from his chin. He seems not to care about the waywardness or reluctance of his hair; I, however, will never forget.

Editor's Choice Award
West Bank Afternoon by Randy Rosenthal
Solastagia by Noelle Adams
The Last House at the End of the Street by Erin Khar

 

2011

Winner
Outer Spaces by Adam King

Lee and Red didnít have anything better to do so they decided to go to a bar and get into a fight. Lee put on his favorite shirtóa light blue button-up with cowboy pockets. His girlfriend, Evelyn, had gotten it for him before she moved to Montana and stopped being his girlfriend. He called her and asked her what the hellís in Montana, anyway, and she said, ďNot you.Ē

Red came out of his bedroom wearing his fighting jeans, the ones with the holes in the knees. He checked himself in the mirror by the front door, took out a comb he kept in his pocket and went over his hair once, then he said, ďIím ready.Ē

Editor's Choice Award
Love, Like Stew by Deborah Rise McMenamy
The Maidens and the Messiah by Talia Carner
Sea of Tranquility by Beverly Akerman

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2009-10

Winner
Snipe Hunting by Louis E. Catron

It was a country of bamboo jungles, swamps, mountains, and people wearing pajamas and conical hats; it was a land that grew graves marked by mounds the forest would soon shroud with silence. Winters were bone-shattering cold; summers brought sweltering heat that was a vampire sucking breath out of menís lungs.

For Gunnery Sergeant Parker and First Lieutenant Jennings, Nam was a country viewed from their bellies when they went searching on their nightly patrol. Wearing jungle camouflage and stripes of black makeup to darken their faces, they inched silently through the jungleís tangle, carrying rifles, spotterís scopes, hand-loaded ammunition, honed knives, canteens, rations, death.

Editor's Choice Award
A Beggar's Life by Ron Savage
Belgrade Motion Pictures by Nikolina Kulidžan
The Six Silver Pieces by Daniela Petrova

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2008

Winner
The Mohawk's Fear of Falling by Jeff Freiert

I’m still alone because I can’t sleep with a woman. I mean I can’t share a bed and allow myself to fall asleep. Most of them end up thinking I’m some macho hard hat who just wants to have sex, and split, and I would rather they think that than know the truth.

When the dreams began I can’t say for sure. I was already living alone again, I know that.

I never fall off anything. It’s not like I’m up on the iron, crossing a beam, and lose my footing. There’s never something solid under my Red Wings that is suddenly gone. I’m already falling. I see nothing—no floors of an office building whipping past, no street rushing up to meet me. Wind burns my cheeks, the palms of my hands, tugs at my hair. I feel an intense wrenching in my stomach and head, as if my outside body is plunging faster than my organs. I have no clear thoughts of death, no fear of what I’ll hit when I land. There is no landing—ever—just blind, bottomless dropping, my body knowing somehow that there is nowhere to land.

Editor's Choice Award
The Cube by Andrei Bhuyan
Komunyakka Days by R.A.Rycraft
In Men's Hands by Daniela Petrova

Publisher's Choice Award
Ice Masons by Reggie Lutz

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2007

Winner
Calendar of Regrets by Lance Olsen

Hieronymus Bosch dabs paintbrush to palette and confers with the small, round convex mirror floating alone in an ocean of bonewhite wall on the far side of his studio. Sharpness of eye, thinness of lip, satirical rage, he thinks: His whole family of attributes, God willing, will be out of this mess soon enough. Rotating back to his work at hand, he touches color flecks to the insectile legs rooted in the dwarf’s shoulder. Appraises.

Travel is sport for those who lack imagination. Bosch is sure of it. Take, by way of illustration, that huge, hideous Groot. That huge, hideous Groot does not possess a nose. He possesses a greasy, vein-webbed tumor partitioning two purple puckered assholes. A homuncular likeness of him hunches in the dark sky above the rendered Bosch’s raised left hand. Groot appears piggish as a gluttonous priest, ears donkey-large with gossip. The heavens churn with hell smoke. Below, the hilly countryside blazes with the firewind of belief. Yet, despite his mass, the emissary from the Brotherhood of Our Lady cannot stop moving. 'S-Hertogenbosch to Tilburg, Tilburg to Eindhoven, Eindhoven to Brussels, and back again, busying himself with business. What his sort does not know, cannot fathom, is that movement is nothing more than a forgetting, foreign landscapes forms of amnesia, journeying a process of unstudying. One must learn to stay put in order to see. Become a place. A precise address. Lot’s wife, that salty pillar. ...

Editor's Choice Award
Calendar of Regrets by Lance Olsen
But I Didn’t Do Anything by Clare MacQueen
The Nipper by Susan Tekulve
Holy Night by Rex Sexton

Publisher's Choice Award
The Root Cellar by Michael J. Cohen

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2006

Winner
Waking Up in the Ward by Dale T. Stuckey

I awoke out of senseless sleep--pinprick light spreading from a center of darkness like a rebooting computer monitor. Objects slowly stepped out of shade and sharpened, and I had the sensation of motion, of being lifted somewhere I didn't want to go. My fingers clawed for something taut, trying to anchor.

Born again. Reverse flushed up a mystery tunnel toward illumination and a not quite heavenly aura. I would have preferred unfolding into a brightly lit room while welcomed with happy urgency. I would have liked kindly beings to coo over me as I took in impressions not connected to preceding impresssions. I would have hoped to come off the long trip through the ether with no luggage other than an umbilical cord. ...

Runner Up
Repair by Allison Joseph

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2005

Winner
Fortunes and Faithlessness by Jenny Lentz

If I had known that Lorraine was richer than a double fudge brownie, I never would have fucked her. You don't sleep with rich girls until you marry them, or at least not until they've promised to marry you. It's too risky. Sex brings so many complications to everything, especially when you run the risk that her Catholic father will walk in on the two of you, which is exactly what happened.

Where I come from, a seventeen-year-old virgin is harder to find than a graffiti-free street. The fact that Lorraine was twenty-four and lived alone gave me no fear of a parental intervention. We weren't teenagers, for chrissakes. But there we were, on her floral couch. (Her furniture was nice enough, definitely no IKEA futons, but it didn't scream, "I'm loaded-don't fuck me.") And we were right in the height of things--God, I was so close--when the door suddenly opened. There is little in the world more disturbing than a large bald man bursting into a room screaming, "My little angel! What have you done to my angel?" when you're still inside the fallen celestial being. Oh, she had fallen. There was no turning back for Lorraine Mischner, fortune cookie heiress. ...

Runner Up
The Last Chapter by Mary Ellen Garcia

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2004

Winner
Paper Dolls by Sally Haxthow

Scarves - After my older sister Lona ran away from home, and my father said this was the last straw and she better not show her face around our house again until she was ready to return the jewelry and money she stole, my mother took up knitting. She started with scarves. Apparently scarves take the least amount of planning and concentration, and when you're thirty-eight and you don't know where your fourteen year old daughter is spending her nights and you have decided to learn knitting for the first time, the last thing you want to do is concentrate. And besides, my mother reasoned, no matter how long, misshapen, and contorted a scarf turns out to be, there is always someone, somewhere who can still use it. Inevitably, that someone ended up being me. ...

Runner Up
Shane by Kristen Grant

 

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