Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘shorts’

Sink Your Teeth Into It

51r5342n2LL._AC_US218_Flash Fiction by Cathbad Maponus.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

If you like short shorts that cross many genres (horror, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, etc.), then definitely get yourself a copy of Flash Fiction. There are trips into the future, into space, present unrealities, and lots of killing, dying, and violence.

Writing flash fiction, also known as short shorts, is a unique endeavor. Having an entire story make sense, grab your attention, and surprise you, all with a few sentences, is not an easy task. At least to do it well isn’t, and Ms. Maponus does it very well.

A couple of my favorites in this well-crafted collection are “The Veil” and “Old Man Jasper”. Some of the titles are as clever as the stories, such as “The Cat Wore Prada”. Here is one that I read twice, and enjoyed both times.

IF SHE REALLY IS…

“Henny Porter, ye are charged of witchcraft. Do ye plead guilty and beg the Good Lord’s forgiveness?” The Magistrate questioned.

“I gladly admit I practice the Craft!” Henny offered cheerfully. “Aye to the first part; Nay to the second.”

His face ghastly pale, Pastor Franken spoke. “Henny! Do you realize what such an admission means?!”

“Do not worry, Parson,” Henny replied, smiling warmly.

The Magistrate pounded the gavel. “Henny, you are found guilty of Witchcraft. Ye shall be burned at the stake at dusk!”

That night, it rained fire. Many bodies were buried; Henny’s was not among them.

After looking around a little on the web, I discovered that there are not that many collections of short shorts, and some of them seem questionable. Flash Fictionby Cathbad Maponus, is one you can sink your teeth into (perhaps literally).

Achin’ for Home

31bo-JcppuL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Over the Pass and Other Stories by Susan Mary Malone. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

You can tell from the get go that this author is a native Texan. It ebbs from her stories like a hot wind in hell blowing across east Texas. This is indeed good news, as Over the Pass and Other Stories is better than a good bowl of panhandle chili (without the side effects). The leads in these tales are tough, hard-working, home-grown people from Texas, Montana, and Kansas.

The first story (Winter’s Prey) describes the feelings of Julie, as she poses before her sculpture husband Troy. “She is naked – not under his hands but before his stare.” Descent follows Julie and Troy on a trip through Montana. Over the Pass continues glimpses into their relationship with Julie realizing. “On a backroad byway between Idaho and Montana, through the Red Rocks Wildlife Refuge, I lost the feeling. My heart got out and took a hike and we were another day down the road before I realized it was gone.”

Other stories in this collection include a rodeo cowboy (The Demon On the End of the Rope); a father and son feeding wrestlers at a yearly retreat (Red Turns to Green); and Foster and Callie, who are in a long distance relationship, reluctantly attending a wedding officiated by Pastor Brown.

Some of my favorite lines are from Cowboys Over Ladies, when old Jim tells Sara, who he’s mentored for over 20 years, “You’re a achin’ for home.” He’d nick his chest with a gnarled fist. “That place inside ya. The one you boxed away a long time ago. So you put the nostalgia on like a blanket of a mornin’ to keep out the chill.” Another is from Two Hundred Miles to Dumas, “Mom glared hard at her, all the crow’s feet tying up around her eyes and making her look more ancient than Grandma, who was older than west Texas dirt.”

Ms. Malone’s understanding, and description, of place and people is spot on – tough, beautiful, barren, and spacious. Every story stands on its own, even though the first three have the same characters. Over the Pass and Other Stories will remind you of folks you know if you grew up in that area of the world, or make you think you’re one of the family, even if you’ve never stepped foot in that part of the country. These stories will stick to you like sweat inside a Texan’s jeans.

Connect the Stories


Some writing “experts” once told me that the best way to write a novel is to first write short stories. They said, “If you can write a good short story, with a beginning, middle, and end, then a novel will easily follow. All you have to do is use the same characters in one short story after another and string them together.” Turns out that they were right, in most respects, but not always.

From my experience, it is extremely difficult to write a good short story, and more difficult to string a number of them together for a book. I’ve had some success with shorts, with some of mine appearing in Go World Travel, Listen, Los Angeles Journal, Japan Airlines/Wingspan, Omega, Enigma, and the Roswell Literary Review. As you can see from the following description of my collection of short stories, Saint Catherine’s Baby, which was released 7 years ago, I hadn’t yet figured out how to keep the same characters and storyline for a novel.

Saint-Catherines-BabyAn eclectic collection of short stories that include Ruthie and her obstinate elderly student from Germany (The English Lesson); Stephanie, who waits for the unorthodox return of her deceased father (Dressed In Black); Walter O’Brien, who discovers a young couple and their child in an abandoned monastery on the West Coast of Ireland (St. Catherine’s Baby); Shannon, on the run at a shoe store in Chicago (Sizing Up Shannon); Jacque, meeting Rosalita’s shocked parents in New Mexico (Framed); and Joshua Johnson, a school custodian whose mother may have interfered in his love life for the last time (The Sweetest Man).

It still rings true,  writing a good short story is a great beginning for a novelist, and also some of the most difficult writing to do. Character and scene development, crisis, insight, and/or conclusions, must all be created within a limited number of words. Some writers can also write great books, without ever having written a short, and vice-a-versa. To this rule, if you choose to call it that, does not apply to everyone.

Tag Cloud