Literary News and Views by Tim Love
Two happenings this week illustrate the rise of Flash Fiction
Tim, thank you so much for the mention, and yes hopefully a great week for flash!
A bold, trail-blazing venture. Flash-readers will be grateful for it, and Flash-writers too - other doors might open.Some people say they don't read story collections because there's no time to get to know the characters. They prefer series and long novels. Flash accentuates this problem, and hearing the stories rather than reading them makes the experience more challenging still. I've seen most of these Flash stories before (London Magazine, etc) but even so I had to concentrate. I'm an active, anticipatory reader and like to pause during and between stories. I used iPlayer - I don't think I'd have coped with the real-time transmissions."Poetry Please!" presents listeners with several pieces, but they're often introduced and not very dense. These pieces demanded unstinting agility from the listeners. Whether they liked or loathed a piece they had to drop it in a hurry when the next story started. My guess is that tired readers might begin to notice similarities between stories (dialogue style, dangling endings, use of repetition) rather than differences - it's a format that puts the writer's style under the microscope. On George Szirtes' blog he wrote "A lot of flash fiction is quite comfortable in its own terms - I don't pretend to be any expert on it, it just seems that way from the small sample I know - so the reader's fairly clear expectations are satisfied. But that may be just my sample. ... They seem highly conscious of the enigmatic status - and, as I said, comfortable with it" and I can see what he means. En masse, Flash can appear formulaic. Fortunately there's much variety in Tania's pieces - of PoV, style, length, subject-matter - but that very variety means that each listener's going to find something that they won't like as well as something that might haunt them for hours afterwards. For example, in episode 2 I liked the first story (about a queue - I'm trying to recall another story I've recently read about an eternal queue), but there wasn't enough time for it to sink in before the next piece began. It was about a portable wall, and I spent most of the story expecting the wall to become a mirror and the 2 people to be one. I didn't like the Painter/Physicist story - patronising in the end. Perhaps because of this I can't recall the final story.It'll be interesting to see how the critics react to it. I'd guess (and hope) that it'll appear on R4's review of the week program.
My story collection "By All Means" (ISBN 978-0-9570984-9-7), published by Nine Arches Press, is on sale from Inpress. For Reviews and Notes see the website
My poetry pamphlet "Moving Parts" (ISBN 978-1-905939-59-6) is out now, on sale at the HappenStance site. For Reviews and Notes see the website