National Flash Fiction Day in Christchurch – Thursday 22 June 2017

Come along next week to the fab free event Flash in the Pan on National Flash Fiction Day 2017.
When: 6pm to 8pm, Thursday 22 June 2017
Where: Space Academy, St Asaph Street
Subscribe to the National Flash Fiction Day Christchurch Facebook event

Flash in the Pan is a popular night that brings together flash fiction writers. Challenge your ideas of fiction with flash readings and award presentations. This experimental form of brevity that links traditional narrative while pushing on boundaries of poetry and dialogue.

And in keeping with the season of Matariki, this is the first year that Flash in the Pan will feature te reo — Tania Roxborogh and Teoti Jardine will read stories in Te Reo Māori.

Want to know more? Wondering what flash fiction is? Listen to Christchurch organiser Brindi Joy discuss the 2016 event on RDU.

There will be beer on tap and spot prizes from Scorpio Books and the University Bookshop. Come early to get a seat – this event is a popular one.

More Flash Fiction

Even more Flash Fiction

 

The skinny reader

Cover of Dept. of SpeculationNowadays hardly anyone comes into a library and asks for a skinny little book. Which is a pity, as there are some terrific reads that fit the “small but perfectly formed” description.

I’m a skinny reader – of books with fewer than 150 pages that is; they must have been published fairly recently and they must be well written. Actually, these small books are not that easy to track down, so here is a list of skinny reads that I have enjoyed. My favourites from the past few weeks are:

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. There are only a handful of books that I can honestly say have changed my reading life – and this is one of them. Read this Cover of While the women are sleepingbrilliant little book if any of the following apply to you: you were once dumped and it hurt like hell, you’ve never been dumped and wonder what all the fuss is about, you think you are happily married, but…

That covers just about everyone I know.

While the Women Are Sleeping by Javier Marías is a small read of only 126 pages comprising 10 short stories that “inspire the reader to look at the normal things of life aslant.” Highly praised for his trilogy Your Face Tomorrow, Marías writes in Spanish and has been likened to Proust. I started to read this book because I love the cover. Then, as promised, the very first story threw me aslant.

The Guest CatCover of The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide is a tiny read of just 140 pages. Translated from the Japanese (there is a trend here), it is the only book I have ever read that has caused me to have to draw the floorplan of the home of the two main characters. Nothing much happens in this book, but the spatial orientation seemed absolutely critical to me.

I’m going to be travelling soon. I’ve got my iPad loaded with Zinio magazines and a couple of books from Overdrive. But, when I am feeling all international in sundry departure lounges (after I’ve given the nearest pilot a wave), I like to don my dark glasses (OK, prescription dark glasses for the pedants out there), pluck one of these skinny books from my cleavage, and settle in for the long haul.

Ah, the joys of travel!

Paula Green steals the short fiction show

I’m still buzzing after an intense and absorbing hour listening to three writers talk about the joys – and otherwise – of writing short fiction.  Poet Paula Green chaired the session, uttering one beautiful observation after another about the works of Claire Keegan, Tina Makereti and Sue Orr.

Paula began by saying that she was going to have a conversation on stage and we would be eavesdropping. She spoke about each author in turn, saying that Claire Keegan ‘navigates the unexpected. She takes hold of your heart and wrenches it’; Tina Makereti’s voice ‘is dependent on an astute ear’ and Sue Orr ‘writes with exquisite clarity, rhythm and mist’.

She told the audience that she imagined writing short fiction would be like folding an A4 page into little pieces, and that there would be seams of emotion in the folds. Awww, how do you top that?

Claire Keegan read  a story from Walk The Blue Fields , about a man called Stack, who lived with a goat named Josephine (sharing his life and bed), and the arrival of a woman called Margaret into the house next door. All set in the bogs of rural Ireland and told in her mesmerising, mellow Irish accent.

Tina Makereti read Kia te Aki from Once Upon A Time In Aotearoa, a tale of an elderly kuia finding a little lost boy on the side of the road, and taking him home.  She uses short sentences to great impact and te reo was sprinkled throughout the story. Later she said that she didn’t provide translations, as she hoped that the story would convey the meaning – a technique that worked wonderfully.

Sue Orr read Scratchy from Under the over coat, a witty and wry tale of a grandmother’s view of her life (which includes pulling down her once-favourite grandson’s low-riding jeans with two swift tugs until ‘they were a blue puddle on the pavement’, and looking out through her ‘eyelash prisms’ to spy on her husband.

As to the question of whether short fiction is a type of apprenticeship for going on to write novels, all three writers were dismissive of the idea. While they are all working on novels, none of them would ever give away the succinct beauty of short stories.

Their personal favourites? Claire Keegan – Chekhov‘s The Kiss; Tina Makereti – The Long And The Short Of It (new publication) and Sue Orr – The Doll’s House by Katherine Mansfield.

One last Paula-ism to finish – she said that she didn’t wear perfume, but imagined that rewriting old classic short stories (as Sue Orr and Tina Makereti have done with their latest books) would be like 10 different people wearing the same perfume, but each giving out a different whiff of fragrance.