Introductions to Short Shorts (flash fiction) at the Current

From the first section in October 2008 to the most recent, September 2009, here are my introductions to the flash fiction section at the Current.

#1
I’m convinced that storytelling is what makes us human. And while we are also defined by self-awareness, our fiction is more real than anything else on earth or the universe at large. We create, dream and die in words thousands of times a day. Our lives are shifted after we overhear a joke being told while we wait in line for a coffee. It is this kind of brief encounter with words that contain our humanity, our compressed brushes with other humans. Flash fiction encapsulates these encounters, forcing other people’s views against our own, relating humanness, pain, joy, birth, murder.

Lately I’ve been rewatching the Georges Méliès shorts. I love their brevity, their concentration on a short period of time or a single event or idea. Their brilliant humor seeps out of the television long after the short is finished. I think that flash fiction (which I am using generically here) has the same scintillation. They are inevitably much deeper than their word count, much more lasting than the pages they are printed on.

In this story you will find a woman’s sense of loss and possible redemption. It’s complexity is due in part to the wistful, sad tone and the striking, magnified chain of events (and, of course, what is not there). Claudia Smith, the story’s author, is a local writer working on a novel. She writes flash fiction and has been published in such magazines as Quick Fiction, Mississippi Review and many more. For a list of her work and more information, check out her webpage: http://www.claudiaweb.net

So send us your micro fiction, your short shorts, your sudden fiction, your postcard stories, whatever you want to call them. I’m looking for stories around 500 words. Please send all submissions to flashfiction@sacurrent.com. The deadline is rolling, though the first one will be Monday, October 6th.

Half by Claudia Smith

#2
In this week’s installment, Forrest Gabitsch, a high school English teacher, takes us through a Bathelmesque chain of events leaving readers happily scratching their heads. Thanks to everyone for submitting stories: keep up the good work. The next deadline for stories will be Monday, October 20th. I look forward to reading more great flash fiction.

Make Me by Forrest Gabitsch

#3
This week, these two stories succinctly and frighteningly touch on the most mysterious themes of our lives: death and birth (or at least the consequences of the choices we make in life). And here’s something to stir the soul as we slowly deteriorate. Life is, after all, the choices we make: so read on. Please keep submitting these fantastic stories.

All He Has by Gabriel Fernandez
My Death by Mika Salakka

#4
As Danny Olvera wrote in his email, he strives “to speak for those who oftentimes have no voice.” Interestingly here it is exactly this “voice” that sets the main character, Mo, apart. Mo’s inimitable nature, and the group’s understanding of it, makes this very short story intriguing. Keep those 500 words or less stories coming to flashfiction@sacurrent.com. Also, please send any inquires to the same address.

Down Lo Mo by Danny Olvera

#5
This week’s presentation of Short Shorts shows the contrast of styles and voice that makes flash fiction so intriguing. In one, a romantic, wistful vision of love and loss gives way to the art of storytelling, while the next is a crash course in Barthelmesque surrealism and irony. Both are fun to read and leave us with our own questions and interpretations. Keep on sending the submissions to flashfiction@sacurrent.com: I always look forward to reading your work.

Lorenzo Salina: The Woman across the Street by Arnulfo Talamantes
The Feather Hunter by Roberto Botello

#6
This week’s stories center around the ever popular theme of death. In the first, the narrator watches events with a sort of numb distance, as a passive observer, which makes the scene eerie and unreal (ironically due to it’s objectivity). The second depicts the presumption of lives, as perceived by a dying man, to take over in his absence. Neither are uplifting stories, but the grit makes them necessary. This is our life: it is short (even for the oldest of us) and brutal. Enjoy.

Please send more submissions in to flashfiction@sacurrent.com.

And He Would Be Dead by Arnulfo Talamantes
The Death of Carmen by Ashley Gabbert

#7
Another installation of Flash Fiction – this time an unrequited love told through the haze of cigarette smoke and an equally hazy and obdurate emotional memory. Love can keep us together, but it can also tear us apart.

The Art of Sitting Alone by Brianna Young

#8 — unpublished

#9
You may have noticed that we’ve cut back the frequency of the flash fiction section. Unfortunately, the submissions have dropped off precipitously, so we’ve decided to try a once-a-month format. Please consider submitting a short piece and I will do my best to respond to your work as well as possibly have it published.

This month’s flash fiction piece is from a previous short short author, Danny Olvera. In his own words: “As a Queer Chicano, the idea of silence is present in a lot of my writing.  However, often we associate silence as negative.  To be silent, to be closeted, is to be powerless.  We only claim our power as people once we come out and rid ourselves of silence.  However, silence can also be a source of power.  What is not said may have as much, if not more, importance than what is said.” This is an astute observation about writing as well as speech and Olvera’s courage in battling, through writing, to find justice and acceptance for a marginalized group is an inspiration.

Have your own voice heard — we all have lives and souls that deserve acknowledgement and understanding. Please email your submissions and/or comments to flashfiction@sacurrent.com.

Brunch with Mami by Danny Olvera

#10
This month’s Flash Fiction section includes three short short pieces. The first, by Katherine Casper [This was my stupid mistake, for which I apologize profusely — the writer and teacher is Catherine Kasper], explores a face, disembodied, among other faces, creating an oneiric, but clear, story of concept and humanity. It leaves us between the world of theater and thought.

The second story is called “Under the Birds” by David Winters. Here too we skirt a surreal environment and world and are left in a suspended state, any ending for which is only hinted at.

The third story is a glimpse of a moment — the possibility of a story (in some ways an echo of the previous story). Emily Hays captures a ironic and self-destructive moment — a story before it occurs.

Thanks to everyone who submitted stories: this was the largest, most diverse group yet. I hope you will continue to submit (and, though I may not have chosen your stories for this issue, they are still all in contention for the next one). What a pleasure it is for me, and, no doubt, the readers of the Current, to read such startling, wonderful work.

Electric Feel by Emily Hays (mistakenly published as Untitled)
Face by Catherine Kasper (mistakenly published under Katherine Casper)
Under the Birds by David M Winters

#11 (the introduction is possibly unpublished)
“Say (You) Never” by David Vance explores that blurred boundry between flash fiction and poetry as well as between sanity and insanity (the disappearance of the self).The lilting plummet into the atmosphere, ultimately, is echoed throughout by an insistent second voice that qualifies and confuses creating a horrifying duet and an inevitably bloody outcome. Even at the end, though, there is not the ubiquitous release of darkness, but the suggestion of life, more terrible than death, reasserting itself. Again and again.

I appreciate the submissions and will continue to look through archived emails for older fiction to print. Please continue to submit to flashfiction@sacurrent.com. Get those Fiesta stories in now…

Happy reading.

Say (You) Never) by David Ray

#12
These two short pieces are both about possibility, but more about inner, uncontrollable fantasy. What’s being envisioned says a lot about the world that these individuals live in or see that they live in. Grim, deadly worlds that may or may not actually be. Power lines decimate a family. A man destroys himself. But these are not the only possibilities. Things could be better — a quick wave or note sometimes makes the difference between despair and respite.

Keep sending in those short shorts (500 words or less) so that our readers will continue having those epiphanies (flash fiction’s forte).

Stories: Love by Catherine Kasper & Transmission Lines by Bill Merrill

#13
I love short shorts. I missed them in my inbox. I missed them in amongst the words of wisdom the Current puts out weekly. This month we have more mayhem and catastrophe, but not how you might think: a flat note and a bit of misplaced lotion. And just when things were looking up.

A reminder of submission guidelines: stories of less than 500 words (this gives you a challenge and readers an opportunity to read more than one author a month); please paste the story in the body of the email (flashfiction@sacurrent.com) rather than sending it as an attachment. Enjoy the stories. The next edition of short shorts will appear on September 16.

Stories: Choir Practice by Colleen Mullen & Negligence by Jen Knox

#14
This was a watershed month for submissions, which made my life that much more difficult: choices, choices. But interesting choices, fun choices. I only wish we had more room. In this month’s very short stories, rifts yawn open and revelations preclude a life of freedom (or a life at all). Glum but wonderfully delivered.

Please continue to send your stories (500 words or less) to flashfiction@sacurrent.com. I love hearing from you all. The next edition of Short Shorts will appear October 21.

Stories: Distillation by Allyson Whipple & Seagulls by Diana Lopez

#15
Coming up on October 21st, 2009.

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