Charlottesville Breaking News

Fiction winners: Lawyers dominate in Grisham's short-story picks

In Hollywood, everybody has a screenplay. In Charlottesville, apparently everybody has a short story, at least judging by the 141 people who entered the Hook's 11th fiction contest— nearly double the number of those who participated just three years ago.

We're still trying to analyze whether this is a trend, but the Hook's short-story judge, John Grisham, a former lawyer-turned-writer, picked lawyers-turned-short-story-writers as two of the three winners of this year's contest. Yet none of the winning stories had courtroom scenes.

Maybe it's as simple as the fact that Charlottesville has a plentitude of lawyers— maybe as many attorneys as there are writers in town. Or maybe it's something in the water.

We've had unexpected outcomes in the past, such as 2008, when, during his usual blind reading of manuscripts, Grisham picked former winner Sally Honenberg as both the second- and third-place winner. Wait a minute— she's an attorney, too. And we can boast about 2003 second-place winner Chad Harbach (from the contest's pre-Grisham era), who became a literary success story in 2011 with his book, The Art of Fielding.

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Trenton, New Jersey

I remember the first time I laughed in America. It was right after I whipped a fastball at Big White Bastard’s face.

Every boy in the inner city Trenton YMCA baseball program was allowed to pitch at least one inning before the season was over. The fourth inning of our sixth game was my turn. It came after three innings of Big White Bastard’s hollering “gook” at me, the little Vietnamese kid in the outfield. Every time I touched the ball, out came various versions of gook jokes plus the occasional, slightly off-target comment about “Chinks.” The other idiots in his dugout cackled each time he did it. No one on my team gave a damn.

Big White Bastard was happy to have an audience. As I warmed up for my one inning to pitch, he used his hands to stretch his round eyes until they were squinty, and then he snorted his way through an observation that a gook could use dental floss as a blindf...

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The Death Look: Donna Britt rages for a reason

Former Washington Post columnist Donna Britt has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. So why, in her household with three healthy sons and a husband, is such an acclaimed writer the one walking the dog, doing the laundry, and emptying dirty dishes from the sink?

And why does her reaction manifest itself in what she calls The Death Look?

"So many women have faced that rage when faced with men's cluelessness," says Britt, interviewed in advance of her appearance in Charlottesville. "And part of The Death Look is the anger at how we allow men to get away with it."

In her book, Brothers (& Me): A Memoir of Loving and Giving, Britt explores the compulsion that some women seem to have to do-it-all.

"It's almost embarrassing to have this impulse you can't control," says Britt. "You think of yourself as independent and autonomous, and you're doing things like your grandmother did."

Beyond the obvious sexism, she also discovered a racial element, something serious and rooted in history. For her, the key moment happened more than 30 years ago. Britt was working on her master's degree at University of Michigan when she learned that back in Gary, Indiana, where she'd grown up in a middle-class household, her brother Darrell had been shot to death by police.

It took her years to fully understand how her brother's death had affected her. One day, while meditating a...

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What do you think of the Landmark Hotel?

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Danielson's back? Billionaire's backing enthuses Landmark creator


Lee Danielson, the man who sparked a downtown Charlottesville renaissance (along with some battles against business partners), was publicly identified Monday as one of the interested bidders for the unfinished Landmark hotel, as the jurist overseeing the bankrupt 11-story structure sent a "stalking horse" off to pasture.

On March 19, federal bankruptcy judge William E. Anderson, who had set a January 15 deadline for the so-called stalking horse, Milwaukee-based hotelier Timothy James Dixon, declined to accept Dixon's day-earlier proposal to pay $3 million for the towering fiasco. Instead, the judge said at the close of the 2.5-hour hearing, that he wants the building's shell and land auctioned— even if that means entertaining live bidders i...

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