APRIL 11, 2014
I’M SO HAPPY to welcome you all to the first Story Awards.
All of us recall the night 12 moons ago when we heard the very first story, Mooluu’s “The Beast Attacked.” Who could forget the look on Mooluu’s face, and the looks on our faces, as we gathered around the fire, children rapt in their parents’ arms, listening to Mooluu describe how and where the beast attacked him. Such an important evening for all of us as we realized, gradually but with growing delight, that making sounds with our mouths, previously used to scare large birds off our food and warn of the presence of excrement, could create magical pictures in our heads.
It wasn’t long after “The Beast Attacked” (in fact it was the next night) that Iglalik told the story, “A Bigger Beast Attacked Me Last Week.” Another compelling tale, even if some felt it derivative. Iglalik added three crucial elements: he made the beast bigger, he told how he felt when the beast attacked, and he told us what he did: run away. Many of us, especially the younger listeners, thrilled to the added suspense and detail.
A few nights later we listened, spellbound, to Kurtan the Elder and his story, “Why Half My Face Is Missing.” To the by-then familiar tropes of the first-person narrative, “Why Half My Face Is Missing” added stirring internal anguish and regret, plus the element of explaining why half of Kurtan’s face is missing. Some protested it contained material borrowed from “The Beast Attacked,” but it was hard to claim it took anything from “A Bigger Beast Attacked Me Last Week,” because, unlike Iglalik, Kurtan didn’t run away.
With “I Didn’t Like Kurtan’s Story,” Lur-Glur created the literary feud. This was followed in quick succession by Kurtan’s “Some People Shouldn’t Be Storytellers,” Lur-Glur’s “Some People Without a Whole Face Shouldn’t Comment,” and Mooluu’s sophomore effort, the groundbreaking “He Laughs Really Hard as He Hears About Kurtan’s Face,” which introduced both the present tense and the third-person perspective.
When Ulm-Wur recited his story, “I Ate the Other Half of the Moon,” we met for the first time the unreliable narrator. His son Woll-Wur’s “I Ate the Moon Too” can be said to have created in a single stroke both the copycat bestseller and the literary dynasty.
Let us not forget Soft The Woman, whose story, “The Thing With Six Teeth Stung My Beneath,” showed us the power of poetry, and opened the field to the ladies. I clearly recall the tension around the fire (and the overflow fire, out past the excrement pile) as the prolific Soft enthralled us with the first creative nonfiction, “My Sister Wonders Who’s Been Having Sex with Her Husband.” And the next night, as Tozz The Idiot regaled us with his ghostwritten tell-all memoir, “It Was Me.”
Such a whirlwind year, so many firsts. It brought us a detective story, “Someone Hit Me with a Club”; Tozz The Idiot’s “That Was Me Too”; and of course the creation of food writing, Monsieur Antoine’s “Next Time Let’s Pull the Hair off the Cave Rat First,” and an exciting travel story, Sprag The Wide’s “I Fell off That Cliff Over There.”
We’ve come so far in such a short time. With each advance, we’ve learned more about what it means to be human, those of us who are human (no offense, Tozz). I can’t help wish there was some way of recording these stories, so the children and grandchildren of those of us whose whole families haven’t been carried off by beasts could also one day hear them.
Now, if someone will pull Lur-Glur and Kurtan apart, and before we all dig into the hairless rat, let’s hear what the judges have to say.