The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction
Issue 8: Winter/Spring 2016
by Paul Thiel
Special Guest Judge, Sharman Apt Russell
What I loved about ‘Stonewall and the Village’ was its jazzy immediacy, its knowing and rambling voice, its rambunctious details—all evoking a sense of being there, that place, that time. The Stonewall riots in New York in 1969 are said to have launched the gay liberation movement. But for the narrator of this memoir/essay, they are just the background to his life, the context of being young and brash and in the streets. Mrs. Dougherty is a fierce and chubby soul, and Terrence has four tits, and the black queen Nova carries a hammer for protection in Spanish Harlem. These characters seem perfectly real and cheerfully at home as the winds of cultural change swirl around them. The urban, name-dropping energy of Paul Thiel’s prose reflects and resonates with his subject matter, and this makes for a compelling read.
Sharman Apt Russell, author of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World , the young adult novel Teresa of the New World, and the forthcoming speculative fiction Knocking on Heaven’s Door (due this January, 2016).