Sunday Afternoons @ Mounted Series: Reclamation: Exploring Memory Through Flash Fiction
Mounted ARI’s next exhibition, Reclamation opens on the 13th of March. On March 21st, in conjunction with the Reclamation Exhibition, Sunday Afternoons @ Mounted will present a program of short fiction readings also inspired by the theme of memory. Each piece will be 500 words or less.
There’s something about short fiction, especially very short fiction, that is quite similar to viewing a piece of visual art. When you stand in front of a piece of art, you see all of it before you. In the case of a painting, it is most often contained within the confines of a frame or canvas (though on occasions it can be found on a ceiling, a wall, or other surface!).
A sculpture or installation is a material representation of something similarly confined within some form of physical boundary. So too when you read or listen to a piece of short fiction, you get the whole of it in one sitting, or one train ride, or one small chunk of time – whether limited by one page or several.
And, just because a piece of writing is small (or short) doesn’t necessarily mean its impact is diluted. Just like a memorable piece of visual art, a powerful short fiction can continue to haunt the viewer or listener’s thoughts, sometimes through a lifetime.
Although perhaps lesser known than other forms of fiction, short fiction is not new. Ranging across the boundaries of language and culture, there is evidence of forms of short story across the globe and a history of very short stories in China going back as far as AD 220-63.
Many cultures coined their own descriptor for short stories. Japanese writer and Nobel Prize winner Yusanari Kawabata called his short fictions, ‘Palm of the Hand’ stories. ‘Smoke-Long’ stories was another expression used to describe a short story that could be told in the time it took to smoke a cigarette. More recently very short fictions have been labelled as micro fiction, microlit, flash fiction, quick fiction, fast fiction, sudden fiction – and the list goes on!
There is a short story continuum with short stories at one end and very very short stories at the other. The parameters that define many of the hybrid subcategories are contestable and specified word counts can be elastic. As to structure and shape, some insist that even very short fiction should be a complete miniature story with a beginning, middle and memorable end, while others talk about it capturing a fragment of time or a slice of life.
Whatever the contested definitions of short fiction are, we invite you to come along on Sunday the 21st of March at 2.00pm to share in an afternoon of readings, art and convivial community.
In the meantime, for some easily accessible short fiction, try the most recent issue of Meniscus Literary Journal – online and free to read. Published by Australasian Association of Writing Programs, two issues are produced each year with selected and curated poetry, short story and flash fiction.
Writer, Ashley Kalagian Blunt has been involved in two previous Mounted ARI shows and is also one of our Reclamation event authors. She has a fab short fiction you can read on the Smoke Long Quarterly website, a US online journal that promotes flash narrative. Here’s a link to Ashley’s piece and there are many more to enjoy on SLQ’s website, just navigate to their Archives.
 Shouhua Qi in Masih, TL, 2009, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, Rose Metal Press Inc, MA