I still find it difficult to read *shakes fist at illness*, but unfortunately also still have the need to read things all in one go. Alas this can lead to attempting to read a whole novel like I used to and then spending the next couple of days struggling to form coherent sentences. I know that technically I could just read for 5 minutes at a time, but it’s physically impossible for me to stop once I start reading something good.
To stop my ridiculousness I’ve switched over to short fiction. And it’s amazing. I have no idea how I missed out on all of this for so long.
Obviously short fiction is limited in terms of plot and character development just because there are fewer words, but there can still be so much complexity, excitement and quiet creeping. There’s just something about a story or idea cut back to its essence, often in a strange or surprising way. Mostly, I love the potential for ambiguity in short fiction that you can’t really get away with in a full-length novel.
My favourite story (including novels) is this six word novel by Earnest Hemmingway
For sale: Baby shoes, never used
To me, it’s perfect. I love its ambiguity and how so many stories are contained within just a few words. Personally, I read a poignant sadness. Maybe the baby died before it grew into its shoes, maybe the mother died before she could become pregnant, or maybe some other, horrible fate. However, it’s equally possible that the baby had so many gifts that the parents decided to get rid of some, one of which was a pair of unwanted shoes. The sadness becomes a shrug. I like thinking about all the possibilities, but I don’t want to know what Hemmingway thought happened because it would shrink them. What makes it perfect, though, is that so much is said in so few words, no matter what the meaning. It’s what makes short stories and flash fiction so addictive. Each one a little literary tardis.
I know I’m late to the party, but I’m glad I turned up eventually.
www.fleetingmagazine.com for some amazing short fiction and poetry, as well as a “writers’ clinic”
www.theshortstory.org.uk for stories, writing tips and links to various short fiction sites
www.thepygmygiant.com for UK flash fiction