I’ve got a friend who is beginning to get slightly creeped out by my excitement whenever she joins me for lunch. The reason for my enthusiasm isn’t because of her food – no, that tends to the fairly mundane; healthy enough, but there’s not much excitement to be garnered from a sandwich, a few grapes or a cereal bar and a satsuma. The satsuma is important. Yes, really.
My interest is in her food containers. She has the most beautiful set of plastic boxes, that range in size from ‘generous sandwich’ (say four slices of medium-cut bread with a little headroom) to ‘not really big enough for anything’ – until she found that it can *just* hold a small to medium-sized satsuma. Told you it was important.
Anyway: she will sit and unpack her bag, laying out sandwich box, cereal bar or grape box and satsuma box, and then nibble her way through her meal.
Then, when she is done, she puts the lid on the smallest box. This goes inside the medium-sized box, and the medium-sized lid goes on that. Repeat for the largest, until you have what is apparently one box to carry home.
Mere words cannot describe the satisfaction engendered by watching this packing-up operation. It is partly that it is an attractive set – aesthetics are important – but it is more the way they fit together so neatly: so much storage space manipulated into such a small footprint. It is just pleasing to watch them clip together, almost like a magic trick. But a magic trick where you know how it is done, and it is still magical.
I think the reason I like flash fiction is the exact same reason that I am enthralled to watch my friend packing up her little boxes: there is a sense of something much bigger on the inside, so much more to be explored than what can be seen on the surface.
This analogy occurred to me tonight, as I sat reading my newest acquistion: Funny Bone: Flashing for Comic Relief (more about the collection below). Each story takes up a page or two, some only half a page. But you cannot rush through these stories as you would through a volume of ‘Dad Jokes’ or ‘The Bumper Loo Book: 1001 pieces of trivia’ (ahem, currently to be found in my loo, being enjoyed in instalments, so to speak) – each must be savoured, read over two or three times and digested, before moving onto the next. Read five or six stories, and you have visited five or six worlds, met five or six strangers and made them friends (or not!). You will also find yourself considering things from a different point of view, wondering why, exactly, you’ve never seen things this particular way before now…
And then, when you are done, you marvel at the apparent slightness of the story – it seems like magic that you haven’t actually travelled as far away as the moon. But it is magic that is understandable and no less magical for that. Just like the boxes.
Funny Bone: Flashing for Comic Relief
Published by Flash: The International Short-short Story Press; edited by Ash Chantler and Peter Blair.
Profits to Comic Relief.
A wonderful collection of sixty short stories, by acknowledged masters of the form: from David Gaffney to Tom Hazuka to Calum Kerr (and many more) there is something for everyone. From Superheroes suffering erectile dysfunction to parents trying to retrieve some kind of a sex life to foreshadowing the nostalgia of future empty nest syndrome, these little tales cover everything from alien invasion (cunningly foiled with the gift of rat-poison-laced cookies) to a day in the park with the kids (partly spoiled by loud sweary families): the full range from fantastical science-fiction to everyday mundaneity.
Do your bit for those in need by getting a copy (or two or three, they make great gifts!) of Funny Bones: not only will you be helping a great cause, you will enjoy the pleasure of reading the works of some of the finest short-short story-writers in the world!
Read more about how the book came about and buy it here: https://www.chester.ac.uk/node/40000
And here is some information on Comic Relief: http://www.comicrelief.com/
I’ve been working on a long piece of writing, what I hope will be the first in a series of detective novels, so I’ve not had a lot of time for flash. But here’s a link to Pandora’s Inbox which I am co-editing this year: browse through and click the links to read poems and short stories (including a couple of mine!) Teaser: one of the authors listed is the friend who owns the little boxes of joy! https://www.chester.ac.uk/node/23972
Oh and! Happy WordPress Anniversary to me! I’ve had my blog for a whole year, according to WordPress. Yay!