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Very Short Writing

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:54 am
by LordRetard
Now, I may have marked myself yet as a fan of short stories, mainly because I find them easier to read, because they're easier to focus on and I can finish them at almost the rate of a normal human being. Now, short stories don't receive that much attention, much less than novels, anyway, but they're still acknowledged as an art form. So I don't want to talk about them, or, at least, not to the exclusion of what I am getting to.

I'm talking about something that I like to call Very Short Writing. Basically we're talking about writing too short to even be considered a short story. I am a fan of it, for its ability to generate colourful scenes in such a short space. Two concepts that spring to mind are flash fiction and vignettes, the latter of which I enjoy writing. I've never read anything that I've known to be called "flash fiction", though I suspect that I may have without knowing, and my confusion of the topic. In terms of specific works, Franz Kafka produced a body of work that has been variously known as "aphorisms" or "parables", the joke being that no one really knows what to call them; I have a collection of one set of them, numbered by Kafka and posthumously released as the "Z├╝rau Aphorisms", which I am extremely fond of, and they range from philosophical notions ("If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without climbing it, it would have been permitted") to strange and short allegorical notes ("Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers; this is repeated over and over again; finally it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony.").

Lately I picked up a copy of Yasunari Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand stories, described by some as to short stories as haiku is to poetry (which is retarded, but bear with me). They range from 1-page descriptions of dream-like events (and some that are just dreams) to a 13-page summary of his most famous novel, Snow Country. I picked it up mostly because of how it's written. I've barely started reading it but it is very interesting.

Anyone care to share anything similar? Thoughts on the medium?

Re: Very Short Writing

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:34 pm
by Lethal Interjection
I've read a few of those Kafka aphorisms. I kind of cheated when I wrote my paper on him in high school. Instead of using one of his books, I used a collection of short stories of his (including some of those aphorisms). I thought it actually made for a better paper, because it was easier to sort through and get to the meat of his philosophy. I did use his books too, (well The Trial and The Castle, I mostly just ignored Amerika) but I never read them fully, as we were only required to read one book. Something that I would someday like to do.

Re: Very Short Writing

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:47 pm
by Edminster
A while ago I got intrigued by 100 Words or Les Nessman, which has since changed names and domains to 100 Word Stories. I rather like them, myself. Of course, basically all of my writing is about that length, so I may be biased. As well, Dan Curtis Johnson is a pretty good fictionalist who has apparently stopped writing as often as he used to. An example:
[u]Tourism[/u] wrote:The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is breathtaking. I enter its restaurant, invigorated.

Inside, it is pleasantly dim and cool. A menu is placed in my hands and I am seated almost immediately. The waiter appears, eager to fulfill my every wish. I am surprised by how inexpensive their food is. The waiter explains, in flawless English, that France values its foreign guests above all else. His manners are impeccable.

Slowly, horrifically, the realization hits that I am not in France at all.

I rise to bolt for the door but they are too fast for me.

Re: Very Short Writing

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:45 pm
by LordRetard
Lethal Interjection wrote:I've read a few of those Kafka aphorisms. I kind of cheated when I wrote my paper on him in high school. Instead of using one of his books, I used a collection of short stories of his (including some of those aphorisms). I thought it actually made for a better paper, because it was easier to sort through and get to the meat of his philosophy. I did use his books too, (well The Trial and The Castle, I mostly just ignored Amerika) but I never read them fully, as we were only required to read one book. Something that I would someday like to do.
Amerika is consistently underrated. I highly recommend it. Those collections are nice, since they kind of randomly include everything. My only problem is that it's hard to find a collection with "everything", and it's also not really acceptable to buy multiple collections, since there's always considerable overlap (ex. they do not sell collections without Metamorphosis, usually as the first story).

I do like that "Tourism" short. It's very clever.

Re: Very Short Writing

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:51 am
by Tundra
I actually quite like this sort of thing too. Very short short stories. I have written some occasionally. I've considered writing a whole book of interconnected flash fiction.
A friend of mine recently published a book that he called "Briefs for the Reading Room" (ie the toilet, get it??) (find it over here, http://www.danmarvin.net) that's made up of flash fictions of various genres. I thought it was an awesome idea. Nice to see that people other than me like that sort of thing.