Read Steven's story on 'Spelk Fiction,' to avoid spoilers: 'Done Paris.'
I’ve been a fan of Steven’s writing ever since I started reading flash fiction. His style is often minimalist, comprised of shorter sentences and economical description. Take for example: ‘Crapulous men tapped on doors.’ Or: ‘You speared at a bowl of olives and we drank two bottles.’ Sentences like these appeal to me because they feel like urgent swipes of an expressionist’s paintbrush, capturing the essence of what can be seen.
Steven’s turn of phrase can also surprise. The following description in particular is wonderful: ‘We ravaged each other, kerb crawling talk, hard and trodden, until we were blooded, coal-eyed and sex-shocked, until the room was dark with the Parisian night, until our need for food and air was greater.’ As you can see, Steven can use longer sentences for effect too, loading this one with a list of powerful images that I could read over and over. The description, ‘coal-eyed and sex-shocked,’ is rich and vivid, and is maybe my favourite description in the story.
The small hints of backstory work to great effect, further complicating what might have been a straightforward relationship story set in Paris. That a wedding ring is taken off and dropped into a purse, means the gritty description of Paris can be seen to mirror the couple's affair.
The couple’s sightseeing never appears easy-going or enjoyable, and this feeling is communicated to the reader: ‘We marched through endless galleries, stopping to look at nothing, saying nothing.’ The repetition of ‘nothing,’ can’t be ignored, and leads to the inevitable separation of the couple at the end of the story.
For me, this story encapsulates the crazy rush of a new love affair, and the setting works to heighten the very real, fierce emotions the couple feel for one another. But it is noticeable how their passion disappears once they leave the room in which they ‘ravaged each other.’
I have never been to Paris; I would love to go some day. And I hope it is as gritty and arresting as Steven shows it to be in this stunning piece of flash fiction.
Note to self: Minimalist, economic description, can create vivid images for the reader.
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