Flash-fiction, sudden fiction, micro fiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction and short short story. All of these terms surmise something whose existence I was completely unaware of a few weeks ago.
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
reportedly written by Ernest Hemingway
Supposedly, on a dare, Hemingway said he could create a short-story comprising only six words. A challenge self created, challenge accepted, challenge accomplished kind of situation. Among his peers he accomplished this incredible task of creating a story with a beginning, a middle and an ending. José Saramago couldn’t do that with thousands of words in his latest book and he’s a Nobel laureate. He wrote the beginning and some of the middle, but was unable create a proper ending. Dead people are so lazy sometimes.
The great thing about these little pieces of fiction is that they tell only the bare essential, they leave everything to your imagination:
It was breezy summer afternoon in that little plane village by the murky river. The petite blue jays were chirping, the green jumpy frogs were croaking, the furry beavers were… beavering. I sat there, my behind cushioned by yellowed grass – either by the full spectrum of the sun rays or by some squirt of some prairie animals piss – underneath a centenary 10 feet tall oak tree. As I stood there, contemplating the beautiful landscape I recalled the delightful banquet of the previous night: salacious roasted suckling pig tempered with spices from India and Africa and America, with a side of roasted crispy potatoes, golden, and a side of red chilli beans. As I sat there, I farted.
by Luís Azevedo
What is there left to imagine? If you’re thinking about the smell, the next paragraph would serve to describe it; detailed metaphors and analogies would be involved.
In flash-fiction all the work is left for the reader. Which story is Hemingway telling?
- A woman gave birth to a dead baby;
- The baby died prematurely;
- Someone bought pink shoes but the baby turned out to be a boy;
- Someone bought shoes that were the wrong size for a baby;
- The baby was born without feet, etc. (my first guess; morbid guess)
You can also be terribly amused by the simplification of stories. The bigger their importance/holiness of the theme:
Megan’s baby: John’s surname, Jim’s eyes.
By Simon Armitage
“Apple?” “No.” “Taste!” “Adam?” “Oh, God”.
By David Lodge
The brevity of a work also lends itself another important quality: it’s brief. I bet there would be a lot more interested students in literature if they were to learn 6 worded works instead of 6 hundreds pages ones.
Students would appreciate.
I’m not the messiah, but you can follow me: