Beautiful sentences: Flash Fiction in New World Writing

I’ve been reading the Spring, 2014 Flash Fiction issue of New World Writing and swooning over some of the lines. It is said that in flash, you have to make every word count, every sentence, and it’s true. There’s no room for the ordinary.

Here are some of my favorites:

How many Monarchs are there? Enough to make the boughs of giant trees bend beneath their weight, even while each one weighs less than a paper clip. ~from “Dave at the Sink” by Gail Louise Siegel

Monarch-butterflies-pacific-grove

and

Even though my mind is quite awake, my body is befud­dled, and parched from the ruckus from my head. ~from “License” by Girija Tropp

and

Downstairs, fail­ure waits at the kitchen table where my husband’s black work gloves rest palm to palm like the sin­gu­lar clap of a large man—a lum­ber­jack shak­ing the podium at which he speaks. ~from “Thaw” by Lydia Copeland Gwyn

and

canoe

“Wouldn’t it be great,” he said, “to row and row until we aren’t here anymore?” ~from “Oar” by Sherrie Flick

and

She fresh­ened her lip­stick com­pul­sively when she talked about him: his sil­ver beard, his open shirt, the gold chain across the hair on his chest, Just like a BeeGee, she said, smack, press­ing her lips to a square snatched from the bath­room roll. ~from “Kenny” by Tiff Holland

I’m honored to have a story in the issue called “Strings” and I hope you read that one, too. There are also flashes from such amazing writers as Andrew Nicholls, Bobbie Ann Mason, Ed Taylor, Eric Bosse, Nelly Zann, Pamela Painter, Terese Svoboda, and Tom Hazuka. And the issue is still taking shape, so stay tuned!

Many thanks to the fabulous Kim Chinquee.

My turn at The Next Big Thing: TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT

Huge thanks to my friend, Susan Tepper, for tagging me on this…is the word “meme”?…for writers. You can read her response to it on Jules Archer’s blog, Jules Just Write. Susan’s answers are fascinating and so is her book, FROM THE UMBERPLATZEN, and Jules’ blog is the coolest.

Aaaanyway, the questions for this seem better fitted for novels and I’m promoting a short story collection, but what the hell.

Here’s the cover of my book. It was designed by the amazingly talented Jana Vukovic:

430239_329813657062269_180459741997662_984752_381805125_n

I love it.

And here is the Goodreads page for the book with some early reviews: Goodreads.

And now, to the questions:

1) What is the title of your book?

TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT (The Lit Pub)

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?

Well, it’s stories, so the ideas came from everywhere, from life and living and people and love and strife and things I’ve done and the odd contents of my brain & heart.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Literary Short Fiction

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d want all ordinary looking unknowns. Like me.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s a book of Kathy Fish stories.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither.

7) How long did it take you to write a first draft of your manuscript?

See? This is really for novels. But the stories were written over a period of ten years.
I’m slow.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don’t think I can compare it to other books specifically.

9) Who or what inspired you to write the book?

I’m going to say Molly Gaudry inspired me to make the collection (of already written work) because she asked me to and her faith and belief in my work was, and is, a huge inspiration.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

You really have to be a fan of short fiction to like this book. On Goodreads, all the time, I see these reviews of short fiction collections that start out with, “I don’t really like short stories” and I shake my head in despair. And you have to be open to odd, experimental forms, prose poetry type things, etc. And I’m laughing because now I sound like I’m trying to talk you out of reading this book! No, no, you should read this book. It represents the best 20% of the stories I’ve written. In my opinion. If I threw in all the stories I’ve ever written, it would be a bigger book, but there would be stories in there that are just so so. There’s no reason to make a collection of so so stories.

It’s a small, good book and I’m proud of it.

UP NEXT: Two writers I’ve known for many years and who have terrific books to promote. Tiff Holland will be talking about her chapbook from Rose Metal Press, BETTY SUPERMAN and Eric Bosse will be discussing his collection from Ravenna Press, MAGNIFICENT MISTAKES.

Such riches in so small a space…Quick Fiction 18

QUICK FICTION 18

Cover art by Andrea Zuill

Edited by Jennifer and Adam Pieroni, Quick Fiction has been a long-time favorite literary journal of mine. I saw that Pia Ehrhardt was in Issue 4 and being a fan of Pia Ehrhardt, I subscribed and have been a subscriber and sometime contributor since then. I’ve held on to every issue and go back and reread them often. I brought all my issues to my flash fiction class at American University (the Discover the World of Communication summer program for high school students). The kids ate them up and learned so much by reading what I think has always been the best of what flash fiction has to offer.

The design and look of Quick Fiction has remained simple, with stunning artwork on the covers. Quick Fiction has only ever been about flash fiction and prose poetry, most of the work covering only one, small page. The work inside consistently great.

But Issue 18 may very well be the final one for this great little journal and that breaks my heart. There is amazing work to be found here and you can buy a copy here: Quick Fiction. Issue 18 includes 27 stories and prose poems, all truly excellent.

Some of my favorites from the issue were “The Train” by Curtis Smith, “Temporary” by Myfanwy Collins, “Seagulls” by Eric Bosse, “Parenting, From Chicago to Abu Dhabi” by Mark Yakich, “The Polar Bear” by J.A. Tyler, “Infinite Things All at Once” by Rachel Yoder, “Voodoo Child” by Roxane Gay, “More Love”by Greg Gerke, “Forgive Us, We Feel Less Confident Than We Appear” by Andrew Michael Roberts, and “Vs.the Mailman” by Charles Lennox.

These works and really everything in the issue work so well on the level of language and emotional evocativeness. I love this perfect line by Nathan Clay Barbarick in “Who Are You Kidding?”: “Nothing ultimately develops between us but the calm horizontal line of our reciprocal knowing”. The diction in “Temporary” by Myfanwy Collins, words like “unblinkered” and “cabbagey” and how the whole, small thing is layered over with images of dismantling. The simple truth of “I didn’t know her but I knew her” in Roxane Gay’s “Voodoo Child.” How there are no missteps, tonally, to the short, sharp story “Seagulls” by Eric Bosse. The “smart surprise” (to use a term of Jennifer Pieroni’s) at the end of the James Grinwis story “Village 51 Glimpse.” Two stories with two different takes on a lifetime in a paragraph are “Washington ‘The First Shall Be First’ Franey and “Mindy ‘Baybee’ Byrne by Stephen Cicirelli and they are both impressive in their scope and number of emotional punches.

I love Rachel Yoder’s writing and here, this paragraph, in “Infinite Things All at Once”:

“I copied six types of cool loneliness from a book onto unlined paper and then considered how I was so cool and lonely I might shard apart into ice flakes so delicate and infinitesimally complex they ruin your heart the precise moment you are able to comprehend them.”

Well, yes.

The last page of this issue of Quick Fiction contains one simple sentence, so in keeping with a journal that has always been classy, elegant and great: “Thank you for reading.”

Two New Reviews of WILD LIFE

Nice to get two new reviews before the year is out. Jim Ruland, author of Big Lonesome, included a mini review of WILD LIFE in this article at San Diego City Beat: Collections of Short Stories to Hang by The Fire With Care

“The most slender of the books assembled here—each story in Fish’s “collection of undomesticated flash fictions” is fewer than 600 words—Wild Life has teeth. Although you can read it from cover to cover in a few hours, there’s nothing slight about these slim fictions. These stories are culled from real life, making them all the more harrowing.

Quote: They discovered the baby in the grass, under the frantic cotton sheets. The clothesline spun and creaked throwing light, then shadow on his face, his wee head smooth and curved as a doorknob.

Also reviewed are: VOLT (Alan Heathcock, Graywolf), MUSEUM OF THE WEIRD (Amelia Gray, Fiction Collective 2) MAGNIFICENT MISTAKES (Eric Bosse, Ravenna Press), TUND (Thor Garcia, Litteraria Pragencia) and AMPERSAND, MASS. (William Walsh, Keyhole Press). I’ve read Museum of the Weird, Magnificent Mistakes and Ampersand, Mass. and recommend all three highly.

Also, the great Roxane Gay reviewed Wild Life at Beyond the Margins. And says, among other kind things: “Fish does what the best writers of flash fiction hope to accomplish—she finds the most necessary moments, and reveals their complexity with an economy of language.” There, I’m also in good company with reviews for The Rest of the Story by Chris Tarry, Green Girl, by Kate Zambreno, Game of Secrets by Dawn Tripp, and the debut issue of Unstuck, which is excellent.

Latest posting during my month as Writer-in-Residence at Necessary Fiction: a reprint of a Robert Lopez story (originally appeared in Sententia), “Inconsequential, Oklahoma” and you can read it here: Robert Lopez story.