Baby shoes to Baby Dolls: The Best Flash Fiction of recent years
CAUTION AVID MAKER READERS:
If you are reading this, put hands on your paper calendar, your phone reminders, your scrunched Post-It notes gathering dust on every immovable surface within reach (organisation looks different for everyone, after all…we don’t judge). Your next few months are set in stone: you are now committed to our Summer of Literature 2022! Whatever your plans, pencil us in, as we’re celebrating literature and bringing you some of its greatest gifts. Bring the iPad to the poolside. Spend the lunch break glued to the phone, or the afternoon lazing in the hammock with the laptop open to The Maker, where it’s all going down this sunny season.
For the next three months, this platform will turn into a literary extravaganza. We’ll explore the heights of poetry and the length and breadth of fiction of all sorts. We’ll have film reviews, interviews with some notable names, brand new artwork to showcase, and a range of excellent work by some up-and-coming writers of the Southwest.
We’re kicking off with publications of flash fiction. We will be spending the month discussing our favourite short fiction pieces, ranging from 10 words to 1,000, as well as publishing some of our own pieces from the excellent submissions we receive from writers of all ages, backgrounds and specialities across the Southwest. As such, we wanted to start you off with a countdown of our favourite pieces of flash fiction to come out of the last decade. Sit back and enjoy the easy reading.
5) Hemingway’s baby shoes
Old Ernest was dared, the story goes, to write a complete story, with the incumbent beginning, middle and end, in just six words. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Unfortunately, as Mental Floss illuminated to us, the story has been misattributed to the famous Modernist, and is in fact of unknown origins. Regardless of who brought it to us, the story remains our most effective crash course in how to convey loss, heartbreak, hope and optimism with a story that only takes three seconds to say. Take notes, Victor Hugo!
4) Taylor Swift by Hugh Behm-Steinburg
A totally different vibe from a totally different author. This uncanny, compelling, hilarious, and wonderfully weird story about Taylor Swift clones comes in at a mere 500 words. As the winner of the 2015 Barthelme Prize, this paragon of flash fiction is certainly worth your time.
3) What we have learned, what we will forget, what we will not be able to forget by Eugene Lim
We include this one as a profound and searing depiction of a COVID-19 bereavement, as well as an excellent (and, frankly, frighteningly universal) tale of pandemic lockdown ritual. It talks about how we remember and mourn, but also how we order takeaways and put our cats on diets. For those of us still struggling with understanding the past few years of reality, it is sometimes nice to confront them first in fiction.
2) Widow’s Final Year by Joyce Carol Oates
Similarly to the last, for the readers among you who like sometimes to dabble in the sadder side of fiction, we have a little beauty here for you. Perfectly displaying how so much of the burden of storytelling can be carried in the title alone, Carol Oates adds to her illustrious literary career with the shortest story she has ever written, proving herself the master of both short and long-form fiction with a four-word gutpunch: ‘I kept myself alive.’
1) Baby Dolls by Becky Robinson
Boasting only 175 stellar words, Becky Robison’s short piece ‘Baby Dolls’ is our number one pick for you, devoted readers. This story is equal parts shocking, hilarious, and oddly beautiful. The narrator—in an impressively small selection of expertly curated phrases—tells the story of how her underage mother gave birth to her in a mouldy-curtained bathtub during a basement party. If you want to be wowed by writing today, look no further.
[Read it here: https://pankmagazine.com/piece/baby-dolls/]
There are our top picks for the Flash Fiction of recent years. Stay tuned for more updates and publications during our exciting summer of literature, and, as always, find us on social media @causleytrust if you want to get involved or submit something.