Saturday, November 28, 2009

Disaffected Prose

So, I spent some time on Friday night reading some lit zines down at my local independent bookstore. I was taken by the popularity of what I'm calling disaffected prose. I use the term ironically, which is getting me into meta-levels I don't even want to consider. That is, the authorial tone seems to be "ironic," in the snarky sense of the word.

I came of age in the 90's, so I know from ironic snark, the affect of the disaffected. I had hoped we'd moved on, and I wonder why we haven't.

Is it because these authors are folks around my age, fellow products of 90's popular culture who are still stuck in that mindset? Can they not get past the ironic distance and get to know characters? Or, as in the book, Prague, do they just hate their characters?

Perhaps we're burned out from the brutish, reptilian illogic of the Bush years, where honesty and truth were sold out, ignored, and tossed on the burning pile of rubbish in downtown Baghdad. Most of us believed the bullshit, were manipulated into enabling the world's most dangerous alcoholic/addict. Integrity means nothing any more, so that is being reflected in our literature.

Now, we don't know what to trust. Sincerity turned around and bit us on the ass. Rather, what we thought was sincerity bit us. Bullshit is what bit us and now we're feeling burned, bruised, used. Yet, that's what life does, that's the nature of society - societies have always been brutal, injust, awful places (to paraphrase Joseph Campbell in, Myths to Live By.) Yet, to continue with Campbell's thought, it is incumbent on us, the writers and artists, to rise above this and to show that the likes of Shrub and Cheney cannot take our spirit nor can they sell our sincerity or our hearts.

I'm not advocating pollyanna prose. I'm advocating authentic fiction which takes risks, which gets inside of characters. Write from the heart, not a mind full of post-Bush resentment. Blow out that resentment, write real characters - don't just write about real characters. Get close, get real.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Perpetual Folly: 2010 Pushcart Prize Rankings

Perpetual Folly: 2010 Pushcart Prize Rankings

I always look for resources to help me decide which markets to submit to. Now that I'm building a significant collection of standard short stories, I'm glad to have Cliff's list here to help me decide where to submit my stuff.

I think I'm more picky with my flash submissions, as I feel that there are so many definitions of what constitutes good flash, that I really try to be picky to see who is most in line with my thinking. I have a sense that it's the same in the poetry markets.

Any poets have ideas on that?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cain, Caleb, Cameron by Matt Bell

w i g l e a f : (very) short fiction

I really liked this piece by Matt Bell. In retrospect, I'm a bit baffled that I did. I'll try to explain after some play-by-play of my reading.

He jumps right out with a strong first sentence. Two babies were expected but only one was born - this is compelling, as are the phrases "pummeled womb" and "troubled cavity." So, I'm hooked. This is visceral, this is fascinating in that train-wreck sort of way - "mistaked-toothed"? WTF?? I'm hooked.

Then comes the horrific lyricism of the second paragraph. Wow, now I'm really hooked. Damn fine writing here. "What delta of destruction flowing!" Holy crap! That's some fancy writing!

Ultimately, it's the writing and the inventive language use which gets me into and keeps me going through these few (<500) words. It's a demonically creative idea which is really given real life by a writer who likes to write - and who is not afraid to turn a phrase. I appreciate this.

After the dust had settled, the blood dried, I took another look. This thing is written from the viewpoint of a detached 1st person narrator. He's sorta there, but not really. He reports on what his wife is going through and what the kid is like, but not much more.

I'm usually livid when I see stuff like this published. Why? Because I find it to be a hollow device where the writer can distance himself from everything and just tell us a story. Like when someone tells you all about a movie. They're not involved in the movie at all, but they're telling you anyway.

Often, these narrators are just telling a story - you know, not showing...

Bell's narrator is such a wordsmith that he does show me the story. It's brought to life, and it's creepy as hell.

Compare to, Yellowfin Tuna, posted at JMWW. In Christian Bell's story, the narrator seems to be desensitized and keeps a distance from the character and the action of the story. The words are flat, the emotion is sucked out. Yet, I guess we always want objectivity when being delivered the news.

Personally, I'll take Matt Bell's approach to delivering a story - alive, rich with language, and totally visceral.

I give Matt Bell's story five jack 'o lanterns and a sack of candy corn. Yes, I know that Halloween was yesterday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Next Door

Apparatus Magazine - Volume 1 Issue 4 - Hobie Anthony

Here is one of my Heat Wave stories. Flash, really.

I've since revised it a bit, but I do like this version. Take a gander. Let me know what you think - review here or on your own blog (but please let me know if you review on your blog.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's For Dinner?

Food Carts Portland

Ok, this isn't about flash. It's about food in a flash. Portland's real contribution to world cuisine - the food cart! They're all over. You can get Ethiopian, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Hoagies, Subs, Grinders, and even Heroes at these carts. They're incredible - just hope you don't get rained on trying to find a bench to snack on.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bumble Bee - by Me

Published by Shape of a Box - the YouTube Literary Journal

Friday, October 16, 2009

On Fat Cats and Flash Fiction

I spend too much time thinking about Flash Fiction. I have plenty of other things to occupy my mind: employment, school work, and facebook. Yet, as I ride my bicycle at dusk and see other bikers without their lights on, I can only think of Stuart Dybek's Lights, a magnificent flash if there ever was one. I think of it as a modern archetype of the more poetic side of flash fiction.

I've been thinking about what Dybek said in the current Vestal Review about compression in prose. He's talked about this before, in Sudden Fiction, for instance. But, his Vestal Review interview got me thinking (this time.)
My Webster's says of the word -
Compression: 1. the act of process of compressing 2. the process of compressing the fuel mixture in an internal compustion engine 3. conversion (as of data) in order to reduce the space occupied or the bandwith required

I think the third definition really suits our purposes. The data is compressed. It's diamond-hard and pure. Pure. It's all of a sort. No explication. No extraneous scenes, characters, or emotions. All the extra stuff is gone, if it ever was there in the first place.

Short stories have "extra" stuff. In a sense. They are muli-layered like a wedding cake. They are wonderful. They have explication and flashbacks (sometimes.) But they are not flash, and flash are not they.

Too many writers and editors get confused on this point. They set a word-count and look for a short story to fit that word count. This cheapens the form of flash. Dybek says:

"I think the current urge to see flash fiction as a new form and genre onto (sic) itself, which then demands that it is defined by superficial notions such as word count, is far less interesting to me than seeing flash fiction as a symptom, a manifestation of an ongoing tradition that has to do with the compression in prose, the counterpoint between the lyrical and narrative, fragmentation, and the redefinitions of both story and poetry." (MaryAnne McCollister, "Interview with Stuart Dybek", Vestal Review, #34 (2009))

Dybek argues for yet another term for our short little darlings. I don't think that's necessary. That would only further confuse the matter as we all are struggling to figure out what these things are. The crux of his frustration is, to paraphrase, with the superficial notion of word count.

Indeed, when word count is the only consideration, we often are served flabby pieces which have perhaps been squeezed into a word count - much like how my fat cat squeezes his rotund self through the cat door. It's inelegant to watch, but he gets through, much like a short story forced into a word-count restriction of, say, 500 words. We all marvel, wondering how he manages to do this day in and day out, and that's the novelty. Flash should not be treated as such a novelty.

Though, I'd love to read a flash about novelties - of any sort. That's an interesting idea... maybe. ( note: pic left is not my cat - my cat only drinks PacNW microbrews.)

Anyhow,when approaching a flash fiction, I urge all you writers to keep yourselves focused. If you want a narrative flash, stick strictly to that narrative. All Story - keep it moving. If it's an emotion you want to show, show that emotion - or that complex of emotions. When showing a complex of emotions - show it as such, as a complex, not a series of emotions - compress them to show the complexity.

You're flashing, you're a strobe capturing a milisecond of something. You are compressing a thing to such a degree that it becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Strip a narrative to its core and you have a wonderful thing. Like a diamond formed from common coal, compress the object of your creative vision. Don't mess around trying to obey the tropes of standard fiction - they don't apply.

If you want to write a short story, then by god write one. Just don't squeeze it through a word-count requirement just to say that you can.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Girls and Paper and Tassels by Mary Miller

I honestly haven't read much of Mary Miller's work. I did hear her read from her collection, Big World, a month or so back. I was impressed by the hard-hitting risks Miller took in her prose. My friend Amy bought the book and loves it.

I have to say I reacted poorly to these at first. I thought there was going to be some male-bashing stuff going on. That was the baggage I brought to the text. However, I returned and found something far more complicated.

What comes through here and in the short story she read that night in Powell's is a near-confessional rawness. In this age of memoir, Miller makes a fiction which cuts to the quick with an unblinking honesty most memoirists can only dream of .

In these pieces, Miller writes in the 2nd person. Like many people, I hate 2nd person. But, she pulls it off. Consider the first two sentences of Girls:

He shows you his drawings, sketchbooks full of naked women. Women who were live at some point, who let him draw them before they became a story he would recount to you.

She starts with immediate action and attention-grabbing elements. At least my attention was grabbed by a sketchbook full of naked women and not so much by the 2nd person aspect. Then, the second sentence is largely descriptive and brings us back to "you" at the end. So, she's not banging us over the head with YOU straight away.

Considered together, we are left with a very emotionally complex picture. We have a woman who in the first instance seems skeptical and cynical. In the second flash, we have a woman who is passive. Yet, both are captive to a sense of fate. They will be with this guy no matter what, it seems. The author winks at us, telling us that the narrator is a fool, that she is deluding herself, drugging herself to take the pain that fate has brewing.

As reader, we sit and watch the wheel turn. We know this girl, we've seen her go through one bad relationship after another. We wonder why. Perhaps it's just her fate and she's just along for the ride.

So, go take a gander. I could probably write a full essay about these two shorties.

Great Flashes. I give 'em a weeks worth of crisp, sunny, fall days.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can't Look Away

PANK Magazine / Buck, Naked by Frank Dahai

Funny, fresh, and buck naked. Buck, the main character of Frank Dahai's flash, Buck, Naked, poses nude for his wife in a small trailer while she snaps away with a polaroid camera.

I feel for Buck, his nudity perpetually caught. His vulnerability burned into the emulsion into infinity. Like a human being tortured by Greek Gods, Buck is forever exposed. Posed and re-posed. Never to find repose.

Dahai has created a million stories, an infinity of humanity pressed into the emulsion of these few words.

I give it 5 ripened Washington Apples baked into a pie.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Short Sharp Shock in the Heart

The Hamburger Story - Lauren Becker

I think Wigleaf is certainly one of my favorite journals. Not just because the editor deigned to publish me, giving me my first acceptance. But, the stories there most closely come to my definition of Flash.

I was pleased to see Lauren Becker's work appearing in Wigleaf's most current issue - if they have issues, that is. I think the editor posts stories on a rolling basis. But, I digress. I can't say I always like Becker's work, but I do find her writing compelling and worthy of note.

Thus this blog post.

Here is a Flash in flashback. I have been ruminating on the use of flashback in Flash, so I was happy to find this great use of flashback. Here, the act of flashing back is not a mere digression to explicate the present action, but the flashing back is, in fact, the present action. This meets my criteria for a tight focus - Becker stays in this ruminative mode throughout the piece.

Much like the protagonist in Tobias Wolff's A Bullet in the Brain, Becker's narrator has been shocked. Becker's 1st person narrator has been shocked by an ex-lover's book and his fictional portayal of her therein.

As to the writing, I found the staccato tempo of the piece refreshing. Short, sharp sentences marched me through the anger and turmoil the narrator is experiencing. Thankfully, Becker gives us a few compound sentences so that we can breathe through the middle of the piece.

All in all, I'd chalk this up as another success for both Becker and Wigleaf!

I give this one a Blackberry Pie with a nice strong, black cup of Stumptown joe to go with.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Chekhov Said

A First Time for Everything by Michelle Reale | Word Riot

Michelle Reale's flash, A First Time for Everything, took a few minutes for me to get into. The majority of this piece felt like the writer was looking for something. She finds it in the last two paragraphs and I thought that everything prior could have been cut.

This is flash, a genre where we claim intense focus. However, this piece spends so much time on the mother and father that we sort of forget about the narrator and her sister - until those final graphs where the real flash occurs. The image of those girls looking through a map, longing to escape the madness imposed upon them by their parents, is really touching. This ending needs to be the beginning, these girls are where the real truth of the piece lies.

I could go into more detail, but I'm sorta tired. Happy flashing.

I give this story one fresh polish sausage from a deli on Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago.

Friday, July 3, 2009

When is Now?

SmokeLong Quarterly—Issue Twenty-Five—"Rats" by Z.Z. Boone

I liked this story quite a lot at the outset. I liked how the narrator took off with her father to hunt rats on a Saturday night, something decidedly atypical of a teenage girl. I liked how she had "nerves as sharp as shark's teeth" and easily pulled the trigger, "pop...pop...pop, just like that."

I got off track a bit in the flash forward, especially since I didn't think I was "in scene" at all, but reading a general account of what usually happens on a Friday night in the life of this young woman. I thought perhaps that every week the father laments his divorce and the way he acted "weakly."

Then, we come back to "now," a particular scene where the rats are being hunted. In this version of "now" the narrator is jumping at her father's touch and seems to hold the gun like a fearful newbie. My initial assumptions about the narrator are gone and I suddenly feel adrift, wondering who this character really is.

So, I'm just perplexed. We move from speaking about an activity generally to a flash forward into what seems be a specific instance, back to a specific evening where the narrator has changed from a confident rat-hunter to a shaky adolescent. She now is learning how to handle violent power and her father's presence as an emasculated figure.

I hate to say it, but this piece simply unraveled for me. The more I asked of it, the less it gave. The narrator goes through a change, but it seems to be a regression. Regression is interesting, but I don't know if I have enough to really see how or why she regressed.

Again, I think this piece has a lot going for it. Interesting characters, neat situation, great writing. As the interviewer in the companion article, Smoking With ZZ Boone, says, it is a multi-layered piece. However, like a many-tiered cake, this piece needs a solid support to maintain its structure.

I give this flash a lone, shiny sparkler.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The News

Atypical Research by Shelly Rae Rich - pubbed in: Flash Fiction Online

Exposition... It's one of those necessary evils in writing fiction. The reader sometimes needs "the news" to understand what's going on. Are the characters in an undersea cave? That detail might be pertinent to the action of the story.

Backstory. If a character has a reaction to a certain smell as a result of a childhood incident, that might be good for a reader to know about. We do sometimes need the news.

However, in flash fiction there is little room for it. Unless your whole flash is somehow expository, if you have taken exposition to such a level that the flash can be said to be virtually about exposition itself, then it has little place.

Ultimately, if a flash has a strong narrative focus, we need strict focus on that narrative. Again, Hemingway's, A Very Short Story, is the best example of this I know. That tale is nothing but story, plot, it's a narrative from tip to tail with any exposition limited to a sentence or two to merely set a scene.

The story, Atypical Research, which served as the prompt for this little rant is comprised of so much exposition as to lose all focus for the reader. It's a nice piece of writing, to be sure, but I'm left with little idea of these characters or what's really going on. At the end, I have a narrator in a love affair with a beautiful and quirky woman. But, there's no real treatment of the emotions the narrator has, only some cursory statements about a research project which is no longer objective.

At the end of the day, I found this piece too unfocused to qualify as flash. It felt like a nice draft for a longer short story where all of this expostion could be developed into something living and breathing.

I give this story one 7-11 burrito, with a Big Gulp chaser.

Saturday, June 27, 2009



This one ended.

I read it and it ended and I was satisfied, but not wholly satisfied. I'd met with the printed words, and I found their punctuation interesting, though at first difficult. Unusual. I liked the movement from talk of the wife/girlfriend to then propositioning the therapist. I found that humorous and fresh. But, like the narrator, I was not wholly satisfied. Until I looked up to the title.

Somehow, I'd missed the title. I was looking for a flash by Kyle Minor; when I found it, I dove in without a thought to the title. What's the big deal with titles, I thought. Yet, finding my self not-wholly-satisfied after reading Kyle Minor's flash, I found a rush of delight when I took notice of the title.

Of course, I do have a bias against therapy. Few therapists seem bold enough to require anything of their clients and even fewer clients are willing to actively participate in their recovery. I digress.

Minor's flash does seem to have a movement to it. Dare we call it a narrative? A relationship is defined and perhaps dissolved - perhaps found useless, when we take in the title, a call to dump the therapist. At the end of the day, this flash has tight focus which reflects and refracts and is wholly satisfying.

I give this one two air conditioners and a glass of cool water on a hot day.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Great Review

Lydia Copeland in the Wigleaf Top 50 House!! « Sean Blog: It All Relates 2 Writing

I really dig Sean Lovelace's review of Lydia Copeland's addition to the Wigleaf Top 50. In particular, I like his additions to the definition of the form.

Read. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pete and Repeat

Tomlinson Saying the Ball Was Tipped by Kyle Minor elimae

Wigleaf Top 50 Selection

I love the use of repetition in Kyle Minor's (very) little flash. The haunt of an excuse which carries through each chapter of the narrative. I don't have a clear idea of why a "tipped" ball would make any difference. I don't know much about football.

But, I do know about pleading one's case and that plea gaining no traction as one's case goes down the tubes.

I know that Minor is known for writing longer fiction and this is the first thing of his I've ever read. I regretfully missed his reading at Powell's last winter. But, I'm pleased that he seems to be adept in the Flash format.

Great read and a worthy addition to any collection.



A Wigleaf Top 50 Selection

This is a good read. I like how Tania Hershman uses the convention of store hours to illustrate emotional (un)availability. At times I was wondering if she was trying to personify a store or other business.

Here, Hershman has picked her images and her conflict. Nothing else. She hammers these home and from that focus, the flash becomes more truthful and hopefully universal. I certainly related both to the narrator and to the person to whom the flash is aimed.

Now, why isn't this a prose poem? There's no narrative, there are no scenes and scant characters. Perhaps it's the narrator and the complexity of emotion she emits. There is a progression emotionally as well. We move from a limited openness to really no openness and a feeling of being trapped. Yet the narrator is still hopeful, or at least wishes to keep the imagined lover as an emotional hostage, ever longing and ever rebuffed.

So, please do check this one out. I give it 4.5 out of 5 Mt. Hood Strawberries.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lots of Things Going On

3:AM Magazine » Better Things

I found Andrea Kneeland's flash, Better Things, pretty much at random. I read it. There's a lot here.

People often talk about how there's "so much going on" in flash. How did you pack so much into such a small space? They often ask.

The beauty of flash is that there is so much going on in such a small space. But it's a contained space and there is great focus on a single thing from which emanates a million different things. Stefanie Freele's Sisters does this. In Freele's micro masterpiece, we have two sisters in two different places communicating over the telephone. Simple. Elegant. But there's so much tension that it nearly tears you apart.

Here we are shown a bunch of different things: bloody van, burrito workers, and a relationship possibly in trouble. There's the coworkers finances and the confusion they cause in a relationship which is given no other context for conflict. There's a lot going on here.

But none of it seems to go anywhere.

There is a lot to like, however. I think there are some neat characters here and the scenario is creative and interesting. I'm glad I read this and that I got to peek in on these people. But, I didn't get a flash moment. No one thing seemed to resonate, but there were a lot of little things lying around which could have been woven into something larger, or concentrated for a flash. Or perhaps those were stray twigs (see illustration, above.) I'm not really sure.

Again, please comment if you agree, disagree, or are curious about where to find a killer burrito in Portland.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Confessions in Narrative

SmokeLong Quarterly—Issue Twenty-Four—"I Use Commas like Ninja Stars" by Samuel Lee

So, this is one of the most popular stories at SmokeLong. Most clicked anyways. So, I decided to take a gander and write a review.

Lee tells the tale of being a 1st generation immigrant. The child of adult immigrants, the narrator grows up with English being taught to him in school and through language he becomes American. Acculturated. Assimilated. He rejects his parents' old world ways until the end when he is reunited with his mother over the grave of his father.

This flash seemed a bit uneven. I found it effective, but not entirely convincing. Lee seems drawn to turn this into a narrative, to give us some "arc." So, the son leaves and rejects the old ways. But he comes back and says, "look ma we talk same." Huh? Same? Isn't this the character who's all about change? Can't he remain changed, "talk different" and still love his mother?

I did enjoy the flash up until the point where it decided to go narrative. At that point, when the narrator goes to college, we lose the focus of the boy learning English and conflicting with his parents and soon we're treated to the tortured phrasing, "pawn their configurations for money." You mean be a writer? Write for money?

At that point, in the second-to-last graph, I find the author stretching. He's got something going, a real flash. Then he decides he needs the arc and there he starts
writing the story. The narrator gets righteous about his grammatical prowess and the author loses what's special about this piece.

So, while I did appreciate the confessional nature of the story, the emotional tug of watching a boy grow up through the language of his adopted homeland and the conflicts that brought at home. But, the flash needed to stay there, stay with that conflict and that interesting, complicated focus. That Flash.

Please take a look and comment back if you felt otherwise (or if you agreed) about this flash.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Amazon Fail

I'm not really buying Amazon's obfuscations. Really, that sort of bamboozlement went out with Shrub and the rest of those bums.

There is a nice debunk of the Amazon Bunk Here

So, support Powell's - at least they're in my local economy ;)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Novellas / Short Novels

Taking a tip from John Madera, whom I don't know, but who Matt Bell linked to over at Zoetrope, I'm listing a few novellas I like:

  1. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
  2. The Secret Sharer - Joseph Conrad
  3. Timbuktu - Paul Auster
  4. The Mezzanine - Nicholson Baker
  5. A Box of Matches - Nicholson Baker
  6. Age of Grief - Jane Smiley

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review of Living in Reverse by Kate Blakinger

Living in Reverse (published by Vestal Review and available online)

Kate Blakinger offers us an excellent example of a non-narrative flash. Virtually nothing happens in this piece. The only in-scene action we have is where the unnamed woman takes Polaroid photos of her children and names the one June. The rest of the action is rather non-specific in terms of when it occurs.

The title is curious as the woman is not, in fact, living in reverse but wants to live in reverse. The final paragraph is interesting in the wonderful description of a possible life lived in reverse. The life of one of the children, backed up to the moment prior to conception where the woman's lover moans her name.

The writing in this piece is quite strong and I was drawn in by the first sentence. However, I found the second sentence rather hard to swallow - it felt tacked on, somehow. Coming from the humor and accessibility of the first sentence to the stark, simple, and hard-to-believe second sentence was somewhat jarring and I almost stopped reading.

However, I found this to be an interesting flash showing me something about identity, desire, and the loss we sometimes incur as a result of progress.

I find Ms. Blakinger to be an interesting writer and I am curious to find more of her work in the future.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Review of: Skip, Patch, Eye, Brownie, Chalk by Randall Brown

Cricket Online Review

Again, Randall shows a story, finds a story, dealing with the very act of writing and exploring. Moving from a prompt, Brown finds a story necessarily wrapped up in the prompt words. A story discovered in a chain of words which deals with youth, abandon, and with our place in the cosmos.

Wasted youth, wasted on an ancient battlefield. Running over again the patterns, the mistakes, the triumphs and defeats of their parents.

I will add this to my growing collection of favorite Randall Brown flash fictions. If you would like to find more of his work, please look to his webpage/blog:

Brown's story has now inspired me to look to prompts to find my next story.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Along for the Ride

3:AM Magazine » He Was So Clean Otherwise

Straight away, Chinquee pulls me into this piece. I'm caught in a fast rhythm, moving through the market, to the "meat place" for sausage. That language really sells it, tells me that we're in a rather gross place. Add that to the title which puts up my antennae for some filth and there we are at the market with Carlos, in the life of Carlos. Stuck with Carlos.

One thing I would have to criticize in this piece is that this seems to be a day like any other. There doesn't seem to be anything special going on to make Carlos particularly vile on this day. Since this is a very narrative flash, I would like there to be some central event to set things off. And I wanna know why the veins in his forehead are throbbing - is he exhausted? angry?

Without some real defining elements I'm simply left looking at a woman who doesn't really like her boyfriend. She made a mistake and now she's with this rather gross guy. I don't find this to be really compelling fiction.

I usually enjoy Chinquee's writing. I admire her quite a bit, actually. However this flash just doesn't do it for me.

Please comment if you have another view.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meg Pokrass: Needles

Find Meg's latest at w i g l e a f : (very) short fiction.

I love a good Pokrass story. I also love saying that I love a good Pokrass story.


Here, Meg tells a tale about needles. Things that needle and fester, needles that release, and the actions we take which prolong pain; actions which numb ourselves to the needles of both pain and relief.

Pains from childhood, pains acquired as an adult. I love the bulbous man in the story who drives a Mercedes but who cuts his own hair. He nails it for me, shows me that the narrator is pepetuating a cycle, one more time around, taking her out of her element into a foreign world where she is a Martian, a willing martian on display for his camera.

Well, just go read it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Flash a Thon

This week in the Zoetrope Flash Fiction wing, there is a flash-a-thon going on. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it works thusly: for a week, you attempt to post one flash per day. For each flash you post, the system requires that you review 5 flashes.

Sounds like a tall order, and it is. However, this is a great way to push yourself or to take up those abandoned fragments and see if something can be salvaged from them. That's what I did during my first flash-a-thon as a Zoe newbie last summer. Heck, I was just coming off my first residency for my MFA so I was a virtual newbie to (serious) writing.

So, if you can't catch up enough to participate this time around, do get a Zoetrope account and poke around. Then, when the next 'thon comes around, you'll be seasoned and ready.

Don't forget to buy a silly t-shirt at FlashFrenzy!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dripping Humanity

Fish: 'Swicks Rule!'

Kathy Fish has an uncanny ability to depict humanity in a very real, raw way. Her characters always seem to have a bit of grease on their nose and maybe a pimple on their neck. Not grotesque necessarily, though she does go there on occasion, but just very human.

Here, your heart just breaks for the narrator, sensing his tension and pain. He's being a good sport, surviving horrible heartbreak and loss. Just read it and let Fish show you.

I suggest reading this story and then heading to Google to find Fish's other works. You won't be disappointed if you do.

Don't forget to visit the main Wigleaf page, either.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Elvis by Hobie Anthony

Elvis by J. Hobart Anthony

I hoped they would change the pen name, but no dice. No biggie, it's still me and it's my story.

I based the dog after my friend's dog Elvis who has all four legs but who is a lab. Their earlier dog, whose name currently escapes me, was in fact bitten by a rattlesnake and had one of his back legs removed. So, I combined the two dogs, removed a leg et voila: Elvis!

I'm considering a rewrite here. I'm conceiving a collection of stories set during Chicago's infamous heat wave of 1995.

Maybe this One by Randall Brown

Word Riot

I read this one back when I first started really writing. I remember critiquing it and being somewhat of a jackass. Of course, it did need work as the piece was really a mess - written as though the author were on the way back from a Dead show with all the psychoactive implications of that.

But, it's neat to see the final form. Brown sets us up with a couple travelling and lost, a couple bound for nowhere. Free and easy out on the road until they run out of gas in a bilingual land. Love unrequited, but not by the 1st person narrator who is still yet left with something of a loss.

Check it out. Word Riot does good work, so be sure to check out the other flash pieces there.

Always Beautiful by Thomas Kearnes

w i g l e a f : (very) short fiction

I've read Thomas Kearnes work for a while at Zoetrope and I find this piece to be somewhat of a shift. Not only is he writing about a woman, or with a woman in the story, but he's taking a more poetic turn, it seems.

This is a rather nice piece, it seems to me. Anyhow, take a look and then hit the Wigleaf main page to find their other wonderful treasures.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Links. That's about all I got until after Residency next week.


I've just started 3 new flashes and I'd love to have one submittable by the end of the month if I don't explode first.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Funny Movie

Ok, so I haven't been posting much. I've been busy with other stuff (silly job.) So, here's a funny video featuring a dog to tide you over. I found it at Andrew Sullivan's site (he finds some really good stuff!)

Write a flash about it or something.

Oh, if you're going to AWP in Chicago, Dogzplot is holding a flash fiction contest. I believe the prize is $200 and there's no entry fee! So you might as well enter. Say hello to them for me. I'll be surely soaking in Portland rain.