Slate/S.O. fiction contest — we have a winner!

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Congratulations to Matthew J. Wells, whose BBQ Sauce Jar story — entered in a Significant Objects contest earlier this month — triumphed over 600+ other entries to earn top honors, from a panel of judges from, as well as S.O.’s own Rob Walker and Josh Glenn.

Wells invented Significance for the BBQ Sauce Jar by way of a thrilling and chilling tale involving the real-life murder of architect Stanford White by Harry Kendall Thaw (the husband of White’s ex-lover, chorus girl and model Evelyn Nesbit). How did he do that, exactly? Well, you’ll get the answer to that when we post his story momentarily (both here, and of course in our eBay shop). The story will also be published by Slate.

As you’ve probably guessed if you’ve been following this, the final decision was difficult; we had a lot of very strong entries. The judges selected 12 finalists, so there are 11 runners-up: David Abrams, Tom Bradstreet, Alex Chapman, Rodrigo Chavez, Erin Ellia, Jason M. Fernandes, Joseph Lyons, Francesca Petty, Hepzibah Phreake, David Popple, and Alan Rodriguez-Ponce. Our congratulations go out to them, as well — and our sincere thanks to everyone who participated.


We asked Wells, a playwright currently writing the history of an imaginary New York Bar called The Naughty Pine, what his interest in the Stanford White murder case was. “I’ve always been fascinated by New York City history, and the Stanford White murder was probably the first of many Trials Of The Century…” he said. “I also get a thrill out of thinking that, because Evelyn Nesbit survived into the ’60s, she could very well have met up with Joan Collins before Collins starred as Nesbit in 1955’s The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing. That’s right up there on my list of one-acts to write when I get some free time.”

Next, of course, we’ll find out what happens when Wells’ Significant Object goes up for sale. We asked Wells: If he could give displaying instructions to the BBQ Sauce jar’s winning bidder and future owner, what would they be? He replied: “‘The Management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone who uses the contents of this jar for any other purpose but the application of barbecue sauce on a plate of ribs.'”

Congrats again to Wells and the 11 runners-up, and sincere thanks to everyone who participated. Significant Objects also thanks for hosting this contest!

PS: In a photo of Nesbit found at Wikipedia, she’s clutching what looks like… a significant object! Perhaps it’s the very pitcher she used (if Wells’ story is to be believed) to wash BBQ sauce from Thaw’s bloody face, or from other body parts.



Joshua Glenn is an editor, publisher, and a freelance writer and semiologist. He does business as KING MIXER, LLC. He's cofounder of the websites HiLobrow, Significant Objects, and Semionaut; and cofounder of HiLoBooks, which will reissue six Radium Age sci fi novels in 2012. In 2011, he produced and co-designed the iPhone app KER-PUNCH. He's coauthored and co-edited Taking Things Seriously, The Idler's Glossary, The Wage Slave's Glossary, the story collection Significant Objects (forthcoming from Fantagraphics), and Unbored, a kids' field guide to life forthcoming from Bloomsbury. In the '00s, Glenn was an associate editor and columnist at the Boston Globe's IDEAS section; he also started the IDEAS blog Brainiac. He has written for Slate, n+1, Cabinet, io9, The Baffler, Feed, and The Idler. In the '90s, Glenn published the seminal intellectual zine Hermenaut; served as editorial director and co-producer of the pioneering DIY and online social networking website; and was an editor at the magazine Utne Reader. Glenn manages the Hermenautic Circle, a secretive online community. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons. Click here for more info.

4 thoughts on “Slate/S.O. fiction contest — we have a winner!

  1. Wooohooo, I’m a finalist! And they said I’d never amount to anything.:) Congrats to Matthew and thanks again guys for a really fun contest.

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