Flash Fiction is growing all the time and the yearly Flash Flood continues to do a great job of celebrating the form. I wanted to make an effort to point out a few of the stories that caught my attention. I have not read all of them yet, but I’ve enjoyed enough of them to feel compelled to share a chosen few with you.
‘The Mystery of Bay 34’ by Sharon Telfer.
This is a wonderful example of a second person narrative that gets very close to stream of consciousness. It’s an immersive piece that does a great job of capturing the fast and often erratic meanderings of the mind. Sharon does a great job of highlighting the conflict between our busy daily lives with the realities of nature. This piece of flash, by the time you’ve slowed down in reading the final lines, makes you stop and think about our modern, hectic lives.
‘Canis Major’ by Helen Rye.
What a wonderful first line: ‘Dog noses look like alien faces, close up.’ This is one of those stories that feels exact and precise, honing in on one thing — here, the relationship between humans and dogs. This relationship is used cleverly to show how cruel humans can be to one another. It illuminates the idea of loyalty, unconditional love, and the need for affection and intimacy. I love dogs, and this story makes me love them even more.
‘Some Things She Taught Me About Heat’ by Gaynor Jones.
Gaynor uses a powerful image in this story: someone holding up a spiked marshmallow, waiting for a storm and its lightning to heat and melt it. The female character in the story is carefree and fun, and exudes hedonism. I like how the sections are separated, like jumps in time, like photographs. The contrast in how the story ends with the earlier freedom, is very effective, and highlights the necessity for all of us to let go and take a few risks.
‘Release/Reprise’ by Alicia Bakewell.
This is a fine example of the depth of story you can incorporate in a piece of flash when done well. The second person narrative works brilliantly at immersing the reader into position that is illuminated the more you read through the story. With each paragraph, the injustice the character feels is passed onto the reader in a way that creates empathy and even anger. A wonderful example of how to include backstory and exposition in an organic, rewarding way.
'What You Have Been Told’ by Molia Dumbleton.
Ouch! This one hurts. The staccato, list style is very effective, highlighting the mundane routines of daily life. But the ending brings us back to each one of these moments, and makes us see just how precious they are. I want to hug this story.
'Buttons of Flesh and a Beautiful Fish’ by Maura Yzmore.
Maura’s story is poignant and intense. The first person narration of a foetus, coupled with the matter-of-fact description of how a drug (maybe Thalidomide or something similar?) can cause drastic side-effects to a baby’s body, interweaves in an unsettling way. This is one of those stories that hits hard without going for cheap tricks or playing on emotions. Brilliant writing.
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