5:04pm

Sun October 21, 2012
Books

Three-Minute Fiction

Originally published on Sun October 21, 2012 7:40 pm

Transcript

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Just two weeks until we announce the winner of Round Nine of our Three-Minute Fiction contest here on WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, that's where we ask you to come up with an original piece of fiction that can be read in about three minutes. In this round, we received nearly 4,000 stories.

Now, graduate students from a dozen schools, including from the University of Houston and Indiana University, have read through all of them. And now, our judge this round, Brad Meltzer, is making his decision.

Now, he's going to be with us in two weeks from today to announce the winner, and that story will be published in the December issue of the Paris Review. Until then, here's an excerpt from one of our favorites. It's called "Executive Copy."

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SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: Gentlemen, I don't mean to be impatient, especially as I'm eager for your vote. My attempt at a joke barely gets a smile. I was wondering if we can postpone this until the afternoon? I understand there are a few urgent matters which require my attention, particularly as I have just died.

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STAMBERG: Sir, as you say, you have been shot. We cannot simply put you back into the presidency until we have confirmed that you are in fact fully who you were. Glitches have been known to occur. Remember President Morgan? That was awkward. It was: a full policy change following his would-be assassination.

Of course, everyone credited what they thought was his brush with death to a change of outlook, but myself and the guys in this room know it was a programming error, one that turned out to be beneficial in the end, but an error all the same. Someone put a one where they meant to put a zero, and he was a different person. And the world changed as a result.

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STAMBERG: It's at this point that I start to wonder if it was accidental. Sure, the presidential cloning practice sees its fair share of conspiracy theories around the Oval Office water cooler, but now that I'm subject to it, I really begin to wonder: Am I who I was, and does it matter?

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RAZ: That's our Susan Stamberg reading an excerpt from the story "Executive Copy" written by Cori Schattner of New York City. You can read more of "Executive Copy" and other favorites at our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction. And that's Three-Minute Fiction all spelled out, not spaces.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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