Robley Wilson wins The Big Moose Prize!
We are thrilled to announce that Robley Wilson has won the 2016 Big Moose Prize for his novel After Paradise. We congratulate the authors that made it to the finalist and semi-finalist rounds and thank everyone who participated this year.
Robley Wilson is the author of three earlier novels: The Victim’s Daughter (Simon & Schuster, 1998), Splendid Omens, and The World Still Melting (St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Books, 2004 and 2005, respectively). He has also published three books of poetry, and six story collections, most recently Who Will Hear Your Secrets? (Johns Hopkins, 2012). His second story collection, Dancing for Men, won the 1982 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, and his first poetry collection, Kingdoms of the Ordinary, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize—both from University of Pittburgh Press. Wilson has been a Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction, a Nicholl Fellow in Screenwriting, and was for 31 years the editor of the North American Review. He and his wife, novelist Susan Hubbard, live in Florida with five indolent cats.
Excerpt from After Paradise
In those days Kate’s favorite destination was the arcade, on Main Street across from the Scoggin Institution for Savings. A brick storefront with its display windows whitewashed so you couldn’t see in, the arcade was filled with pinball machines and electric games, mostly war games. It had originally been an auto parts store, but the owner was a youngish man with no family. When the army drafted him, he sold the building, which stood empty for almost a year, until the new owner made it an arcade like those at Old Orchard Beach. Besides the games, the owner put in a juke box. Sometimes it seemed to Kate that the only song on the juke box was “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” which played non-stop as counterpoint to the rattle and ring of the pinball tables.
What Kate had liked most about the arcade was that she was usually the only girl there. It gave her a feeling of equality that she couldn’t find anyplace else. Here were these boys, most of them older, from the town’s two high schools, all of them laughing and swearing and smoking cigarettes, pounding on the pinball machines until they went tilt, pretending to be soldiers at the battle games, or champions at the racing games, or great hunters at the game where a bear on a track crossed in front of a woodsy background. When you hit the bear with a light beam from a gun, the bear stopped, gave a roar, then turned back in the opposite direction. It was Kate’s favorite; if you hit the target over and over, the bear reversed itself and roared so often it looked as if it was having some kind of mechanical fit.
She spent so much of her time at the arcade, the boys took her for granted. They joked with her and offered her cigarettes—she never took one; her mother already complained about the way her hair smelled of nicotine—and generally treated her as one of them. The exception was that there were always two or three boys who asked her to the movies, or wanted to walk her home, or looked at her as if she was something to cook for dinner. Those boys—the wolves—she learned to deal with, partly by walking away, partly by borrowing their own language and turning it back on them. She supposed that whatever she was learning would be useful to her later, as if the arcade were a classroom outside school.