Tag Archives: hobart

Flash 14!!

1. At elimae: Halloween by Elizabeth Ellen.

I like flash of detachment. I like how the genre lets us read off the page. I like homage to William Carlos Williams. Red wheelbarrow is off the page. I respect tone, control of tone. This reminds me of “Night” by Brett Lott, a cold sun of a flash found in this anthology. EE’s flash is the whisper of the space inches above a cold floor. That space exists. The sound of mist on a rooftop. It is a type of quite-ssssssssssss-Chiaroscuro, with a slash of red lipstick, a painting with a hint of violation, a caught breath, a dizzy drop of blood .

2. Kathy Fish at Smokelong Q

Startling juxtapositions here. Worlds of lives orbiting underground, under covers. Reading this I had a feeling of being cut off, apart, like maybe I was talk floated in its journey, fallen words like leaves. Or this ending:

He knows that someday Mattie will take to calling him Handsome Mole. That her skin will never wrinkle. That she will someday board a train with faulty brakes. He knows, but he is helpless to change things. The repair man will someday carry a backpack full of books to the Wife Saver but he will fail to open them. He’ll say, Mattie I’m frightened, but she won’t coo to him. And he will die alone on an ice morning, walking past the subway to church.

3. Tina Hyland at decomP.

I’m not a huge fan of the title, but most every word afterward  is a well struck chord. This one falls into the long history of flash as parable, as magical realism, remake of God, and I appreciate the understanding of the genre and form. These are tough to write. Easy to take in the wrong direction, the wrong tone. Hyland keeps it glow with precise phrasing:

See my heart, he said. It really goes.

It really goes, it really goes, this FF. We thank you.

4. Flash Master Bruce Holland Rogers discusses repetition.

A paragraph that says “rose” five times is probably just as clear as one that says “rose,” “flower,” “bloom,” “posy,” and “inflorescence.” In fact, the repetitive version may be clearer than the varied one, particularly if the pursuit of variety leads the writer to scour the thesaurus and find words that aren’t quite right.

He’s right. As a teacher, I note the thesaurus-scourer, too. A student writes, “He ingested his morning sustenance,” and I say “You mean he ate his cereal?” But then again I don’t want to put my students off the thesaurus, though there is a better way to glow/know words: read more books. But I digress…

Holland Rogers argues for repetition. He makes some fascinating points. For example:

If you are going to repeat in your prose, repeat often enough so that the reader can see that the repetition is deliberate and part of your design.

He also lists various types of repetition, varying techniques. It’s a smart essay, thoughtful, and passed my gold standard: It made me want to write.

As a teacher of writing, I think about repetition in a student’s technique. I mean to say students might try a structural flair, or a certain tone shift, a few notes, a hotel of words, or a look-ma-no-hands stylistic move. But they do it once. My feedback is always to say, “No, don’t do it once. Repeat the move.” As Holland Rogers notes above, give the move intent, voice, ownership.

5. Dan Sanders made beer blow out my nose over at Hobart. The rarest thing is to write funny, even rarer the funny flash. But wow. I coughed my spleen into discrete syllables.

We launch in four days. I am assured that my time here has been worthwhile. I feel better than I have in years. Yuri bought a Cadillac. He’s very excited. Every time he sees me he erupts into joyous laughter and says “Cadillac” in his thick Russian accent. He is the very best spiritual advisor a fifty year old man could have before being launched into space.

And this gem:

If you’re going to take people into space, provide them with something to do.

Indeed, sir.


6. Raymond Carver by Dan Choan.

This one is a nod to my students. Recently, I was teaching persona fiction, or fiction working the terrain of celebrities, personalities, stories told with their presence or through their eyes.This is a good assignment for many reasons, but it’s strength is that it forces students to understand the power of characterization.  Persona fiction provides a massive advantage for the writer–the characterization is already complete. The reader “knows” the character beforehand.

I gave them spiderman, a version of.

I gave them Paris Hilton and Nicole.

But they really locked onto Mr. Choan’s flash. Maybe because it’s so aware, such a Carver story about Carver about…I mean to say it’s glow.

7. Flash interview with Caia Hagel.

It is a challenge to write, to find the precisely right word after word and rhythm to keep the whole of it viscerally alive. I find that attractive.

8. You have from November 9, 2010 to January 31, 2011 to enter the Vestal Review flash fiction contest.

9. Time is odd and devastating. We’re trapped. Who asked for this? This life. Seriously.

Eric Higgins at wigleaf presents our deathly dilemma very well:

Because It Was Sunday
Eric Higgins

My father was reading Golf Digest in his chair. I was reading about ancient heroes (made up kinds). My father was my ancient hero. Mother passed through on horseback. Twigs and Spanish moss like grandfather’s beard in her hair tangled. She waved. We waved. Father did it without looking up. This was how we spent Easter Sunday, not because it was Easter but because it was Sunday.

Time must have passed because I was sautéing mushrooms next and draped with too-big gingham pants belted high. What’s for dinner, someone asked. What’s on your plate, I said.

Suddenly a nasty accident saved us.

Mother sold her quarter horses. Dad, his clubs. I turned over my skillets and books. We got to know each other gradually. Videos of us picnicking were made. This was a happy ending. This was a happy ending and over our food we prayed.

10. My flash advice is to write three of everything. That’s what I do now. Three. If one flash “works” I write two more, a series. I suggest you do the same.

I suggest compulsory masterminded attacks of vowels. Go almost taxi, like move your respect into the sky beyond the bridge. I suggest you kiss a pearl’s mother. An owl. I suggest beers the size of synagogues. I suggest lecturing your own brother. Or vikings! Or maybe you jump a fence and wrestle a deer. Or take a nature poem and drown it in yellow gouts of snot. I suggest you listen to the rain. Have sex in the basement of a boycott. Go ahead, take several eggs from the clutch. And suck them. I suggest you go about randomly shouting, “Is anyone here named Terry?!” You’re trapped. I suggest you caress your own earlobe. Remove the wax and sculpt someone who will be by your side when it’s finally your own time. Your own time is coming! Or picnic during an invasion. busyness, I suggest. Or, hell, go bet on dogs and feel horrible for betting on dogs. Cast your mind into turmoil. Gray slime. Flapping shadows. Create your own stamp from a block of hot sauce. Menu my body. HELLO MY NAME IS. Let out a screech. Check that. I hate the word screech. Mystery and imagination, our very few days. Whoops, I just lost another full minute of my lifetime. Drink whiskey, read the Times, etc. I suggest you shut the fuck up. Sorry, sorry, it’s this ghost in my stomach, a thing I once thought impossible. Glassed cabinets I call my eyes. Work one third of my fucking days. Sleep another third. I suggest you fast walk. Quick talk! Stalk out and remember yourself today. Fry in hell! Sorry…I know but one time around dusk I saw a coyote with its mouth full of bird and it was stalking a rabbit snagged on barbed wire, a screaming rabbit, one big spinning eye on me.

11. I also suggest The Party, a two-party gathering at 3 in the morning, a flash by Alan McCormick and a drawing by Johnny Voss.

12. I just remembered that I write flash fiction. Here’s one for the Elvis fan in all our greasy souls:

Elvis Presley Visits His Volatile Temperament

It was snowing the night they say I lost my mind, and I never shot no damn TV. It was too much Budweiser on top of codeine on top of valium on top of methaqualone and an argument with Sonny West about him cheating in racquetball that afternoon. Really it was just about me losing to a man so grossly out of shape, about self-image. I just looked in the mirror and something snapped. I tore the mirror from the wall and jumped on the bed until the bottom fell out and opened my big window and hurled all of this and one hell of a hi-fi set into the frozen swimming pool below (we never did get the cover on that year). Then I tossed a big blue lamp—some kind of glass sculpture thing—followed by a silver serving tray and a chair made to look like a leopard standing on its hind legs (given to me by Zambia’s Tourism Minister, Frederick Mwanawasa). It was all fine until I found my revolver. They’d removed the bullets (wrapped them in duct tape and hidden them in the downstairs freezer I found out later). I ranted and raved—“Where’s my ammo!” They held me down, until I passed out. The next afternoon, after I woke up on my bedroom carpet, I gave them all hell, my voice thick as cough syrup.

“Where’d my life go?” I demanded.

“In the swimming pool,” Sonny said, the rest of them nodding along.

“Oh.” I thought a moment. “Well, go get it.”

13. Jared Yates Sexton over at The Raleigh Review.

This is some gritty, fast-moving knife flash here. In dialogue, internal monologue–check this glass, glitter shard of, technique. Conflict ramped up, no waiting on the wind, no waiting, words glint of beer can off bits of bone, bits of skull. I keep saying to students, “Get the story started!” I show them things. Next time I say it I’m going to show them this Sexton flash.

14. Kim Chinquee is the Queen of Flash Fiction. Well, no shit.

In curt sentences detailing many unsettled lives, Chinquee constructs a mosaic of despair in modern day America.

Word.

came down with lemon squirrel eggs mange

Lucy Corin at Hobart. Damn. This be like nachos.

(lunch)

*

Eggs made The Believer honorable mention list for 2009!

Thanks fans.

*

I have decided the best iPhone app is Pandora. I set up a New Order/Smiths/Pet Shop Boys/Depeche radio station mix and cranked out some good miles in the Man Room. Sweet. Next I will do a Missy Elliot channel for my speed work. Maybe a waltz for my long runs?

*

he can smell the adverbs on his tongue in the mornings.

That must kind of suck. I hate adverbs, greatly. Ha, ha…oh. Shut the fuck up, Sean.

I’ll tell you what does not suck: This new text from Kirsty Logan at elimae.

If I am lost on a rowboat in an extinguished sea on a giant rind of cheese, please send my elimae. I can read it until the crows loan foam. All day long.

he says that he will go to the 24-hour hardware shop to get the right tiles and walks down the garden path swinging his keyring around his finger and whistling the theme tune from a TV programme and he drives his car around the block and parks under a sycamore which gently vomits leaves onto the roof and lies down on the back seat and reaches into the footwell and brings up handfuls of words and he closes his eyes and he swallows them.

That be gospel. Damn. Glow writing.

*

BLACK LAWRENCE CHAPBOOK CONTEST: You got 11 days. We need more fiction chapbook opportunities, people. So go support this one.

*

Nicholas Sparks is a douche bag:

“There’s a difference between drama and melodrama; evoking genuine emotion, or manipulating emotion. It’s a very fine eye-of-the-needle to thread. And it’s very rare that it works. That’s why I tend to dominate this particular genre. There is this fine line. And I do not verge into melodrama. It’s all drama. I try to generate authentic emotional power. I write in a genre that was not defined by me. The examples were not set out by me. They were set out 2,000 years ago by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. They were called the Greek tragedies. A thriller is supposed to thrill. A horror novel is supposed to scare you. A mystery is supposed to keep you turning the pages, guessing ‘whodunit?’ A romance novel is supposed to make you escape into a fantasy of romance. What is the purpose of what I do? These are love stories. They went from (Greek tragedies), to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, then Jane Austen did it, put a new human twist on it. Hemingway did it with A Farewell to Arms. A Farewell to Arms, by Hemingway. Good stuff. That’s what I write. That’s what I write…There are no authors in my genre. No one is doing what I do.”

*

10k All Eating the Singing Corn Dogs

I caterwhomped at 5:30. The air was blue. Like the blue of juxtaposition. Outside no crickets did _______. I might have sensed a bird but is this a Murakami story? No. What if I threw in a talking monkey? No. Juxtaposition. What is that? Clive, tell us.

Clive: “You throe one thing than another you end up with a third lose thing that is different that the first two things once the right time passes. Like when I make beer at the house.”

Thank you, Clive.

Mark picked me up to go try the 10k. We drove to Indy.

I said, “Mark, you used to always get lost but now you have GPS and never get lost.”

(Mark’s GPS voice is this sexy Australian. It made me want to meet her and play Scrabble in some cafe in Guam.)

I said, “We are going to run this motherfucking 10k.” Or something like that. Something from the throat and heart and left foot.

The day dawned sunny/cold, little wind. I would say the day was like a bleeding fish.

Why did the Indiana State Museum charge us for parking? You don’t charge runners for parking. I felt bad since I didn’t have any money and so Mark had to pay $4. That breaks a driving etiquette rule, folks. The person NOT DRIVING pays for parking. That’s obvious. So I felt badly about that one.

ON YOUR MARKS GET SET GO!!!

I tucked into some fast ones, dropped hammer at 3-5, reeled in some folks. Finished arms pumping like a goat.

After I finished I cheered Mark home. I yelled, “Come on, Mark!” He finished strong. I like to see a runner finish strong, that attitude, like, “Not only I am going to finish this race, but I OWN this race!”

You can look up results here if you are just bored.

Mark ran his first 10k. He finished 235 out of 1700. I am/was proud of Mark. He ran the race in 50:40.

I ran my many-teenth 10k. I finished 11th out of 1700. I am/was proud of me. I ran the race in 38: 07.

After the race we played Disc Golf.

Then I went with some friends and ate a metric ton of Japanese food and drank a metric ton of sake. Here the debris. I like photos of debris. Wait, the debris photos were lame like dog collars. Ok, what about during the glutton?

I look at this and think:

1.) I need a haircut. I look scruffy and/or freakish.

2.) My two year old is on an iphone. At two years old!!!

WTF?

(Hi, I’m two and cannot interact with humans, la-de-la….)

Cute kid though…

*

Today’s mail!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my. Disc nerd alert.

(Holy shit check out this Crystal Z Buzz!!!!!)

Crystal Z Buzz

Crystal Z Buzz

Crystal Z Buzz

I’ll throw one like Tim Donaghy. I mean throw it FAR.

[My favorite sushi was the yellow tuna. I can’t explain that color of yellow. Uh, Clive…

Clive: “Mee maws hands. They shake like that the sky this man painted. I remember the highway said they would buy so much of maws land for the big Dysberg out there to the airport and needed dirt would make her a pretty pond but she said go strait to hell. Then they just come back anyway. Grandpa said they had domane. They never built that pond neither.”

Thank you, Clive.]

*

I need to go run 20 miles today.

*

Ever year I try to win this flash fiction contest where you get a case of beer. For two years I have been a finalist. This year? Finalist again, but no suds.

Cellstories featured my Elvis/cocaine story. Thanks.

The Red Room is out. I am in there. It be sweet like Book Fairs and muddy shoes.

Red Room full of Bill Kushner, Jayne Pupek, Maurice Oliver, Lewis Warsh, Changming Yuan, Ruth Altmann, Stephanie Gray, Nicole Cartwright Denison, Leonard Gontarek, Andrew Mossin, Lydia Cortes, Lynn Levin, Meg Pokrass, Elizabeth Thorpe, Miriam Kotzin, John Grey, John Vick, others.

*

Odd little story by S.H. Gall over at decomp. Good work with tone, with wistful thought, with brick lodged in the head. Also S.H. Gall is a cool name.

Memphis story! Alex Pollack at Hobart. Sweetness. Ah, Libertyland, the memories…

The man references the Zippin Pippin! Well done, sir. (Alex blog here)

“You’ll buy a funnel cake,” Jessica says, “take two bites, say it’s too sweet like you always say, and throw it away like you always do.” She’s mad about last night, when I microwaved a hot dog wrapped in tinfoil; it left a blur of electric blue and a trail of flames.

*

I have these business ideas. Like today, I was thinking, “Singing corn dog.” A singing corn dog. People like corn dogs and they certainly like music. It would be like a corn dog ipod or something. You would carry it proudly like a torch, all the while your favorite song drifting on the air like corn dog essence, like fried oil or fried pig or fried corn flour tunes of glow. I think it’s a winner idea.

*

Late at night I watched Amy Winehouse London 2008 in HD. Never do that. She was drinking beer and slurring songs and picking her nose and wrecked out her wonderful mind. I couldn’t imagine being in that audience. Most interesting were the looks of all the professionals dancing and playing instruments behind her. It was like the loud kid in class who sits on the front row and shouts out all these crazy answers and the kid never gets that EVERYONE BEHIND YOU IS STARING AT YOUR HEAD IN A WEIRD WAY.

The musicians has this look like, “Play your instrument, smile, don’t notice the slurring, stumbling singer. Don’t notice. I need this paycheck.”

You want some of me?

*

Clive, what do you think of farming?

Clive: “He says a farmer gets it bad both ways. A farmer sells the beans and corn for what people say . The farmer buy the seed for what the people say. Thats how he means both ways. Aint  no reply my grandpa says. A man can’t punch a big system. Grab it down to normal size.”

OK, Clive, getting all political!

Love you, man.

S