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Sunday, January 29, 2006

What's flash fiction?


This entry is about "flash" (or "sudden") fiction. What makes a great flash? How would you define this popular genre? I was talking to one of my Mad Hatter editor friends, Liesl Jobsen, who's writing a thesis about flash fiction. Let's see if we can help her out. Some of my favorite examples of excellent flash can be found in Mad Hatters' Review (see, eg., current issue stories by Antonios Maltezos, Ranbir Sidhu, Barbara Jacksha & Girijia Tropp). Then there's the flash by Raymond Carver (in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?) called "The Father." I've written lots of flashies. Here's the one published in Newtopia, to be republished on 2/1 in David Coyote's Den (http://www.dcoyote.com). I hope that you'll take a look at a longer flash (still under 1000 words) called "Demonica," published in the print mag Cellar Door, but very soon to be republished in online Big Bridge (http://bigbridge.org). Someone who recently read "Lady in Waiting" told me it made her cry.

Lady in Waiting


The restroom attendant at the hotel was some kind of Arab, with mouth mask and long dark gown. Maybe in her forties or fifties; hard to tell with those foreign types what age fast. Anyways, us waitresses think maybe she’s got a dirty bomb in her shoes or tucked under her gown because she never looks at anyone and her eyebrows are dense over dark eyes you can’t see through; and she makes gross clicking, gloating sounds and prays weird, not like us Christians. So we tell the manager she’s spooking us and maybe the hotel customers too and the lady’s gone one day; we sigh thank God, great to feel safe again. We like Maureen, the new attendant, Irish and smiling.

Then a very strange thing happens. The new attendant is reading the local paper one day and I happen to see something on page 27, and there’s the Arab’s picture; well it looks like her but they look alike, so I’m not sure. Anyways, she’s splattered on the ground, eyes open, and there’s the headline: “Widow with Six Children Jumps to Death.” And the article goes on to say how the woman had recently lost her job and she was suffering from depression, according to a neighbor, and how she and her husband came here for a better life, and other stuff like that. So I ask Maureen for the page and I check with the manager ‘cause I never knew the Arab’s name and it’s her. And I feel sorry, I really do, but you can never be too safe. All of us girls agree.

copyright Carol Novack 2004-2006.


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So now --- here's my flash definition of 4 different types of effective flash fiction (not precluding overlaps):

A drop of acid rain on the brain, a belly laugh, an unexpected, deep caress, an electric shock to the heart.

Comments?

4 comments:

richard h. said...

So now --- here's my flash definition of 4 different types of effective flash fiction (not precluding overlaps):

A drop of acid rain on the brain, a belly laugh, an unexpected, deep caress, an electric shock to the heart.
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wouldnt acid rain marinate a brain?

for me, FF is fast food for thought. i dont see that it has to shock, traumatize, etc. - imho, FF simply needs to be concentrated energy that stimulates the creative glands, sometimes located in the qwerty tissues of the fingertips, or in the nerves connecting the genitalia with the frontal lobes. other locations TBA...

Carol Novack said...

Come now, Rick. You're supposed to take "acid rain" drops metaphorically. :-)

I did say EFFECTIVE, implying the best -- not "simply" stimulating the creative glands.

richard h. said...

while it could be argued that stimulation is an effect of a stimulant (viz. an effective FF piece), it wouldnt be argued by me... or did i just do that? where am i? isnt this dimension 16? dang blastit, my freak modulator's off again.

nevermind.

Carol Novack said...

ok. nevermind. apply to the Pentagon for a shot of acid raindrops.