Two admininstrative notes.
First, you can follow me on Twitter, if you don’t mind IT, political, and other tweets that aren’t related to Flash Fiction Online, or you can follow flashfictionmag instead, if you just want the literary stuff: story announcements, blog posts, etc.
Second: blog posts? Yes, staffer Bill Highsmith regularly posts to the News and Headlines section of the site, and the content there is generally interesting to readers, writers, and, sometimes, science-oriented people. It’s one of my favorite blogs.
On to the magazine content. I generally say that stories with plots are more likely to do well at Flash Fiction Online rather than ones centered on an image. Several of the stories this month are exceptions.
Midnight Mambo by Daniel José Older is almost a character sketch. Yes, there’s a plot, but it’s pretty simple. What I love about it is the characterization of the main character and the interactions of the children at the hospital with the muertos. What are muertos, you ask? Go read it.
Blood Willows by Caroline M. Yoachim doesn’t explain much. There are two flashbacks within this 988-word story. If I think too hard, I’m left with a lot of questions. But I don’t think that hard about it, because I want to live briefly in each of these scenes — those questions turn out not to need answers, I think, because the story is so vivid. (Caroline is used to “vivid”: She’s a superb photographer, and lent one of her own photos to this story. The version on the page is distorted, but you can click on it to see her original.)
On Green Hills by Andrew Gudgel has a plot. I don’t quite know how to describe my reaction to it. The title evokes tranquility, and I feel tranquil as I read it, but I know throughout that the peace is tenuous and underpinned with violence. And in fact, only by denying himself that peace can the protagonist protect it.
For our Classic Flash, we go back to Kate Chopin. I’ll no doubt use more of her stories in the future, because they’re all so different. We published The Kiss in June of last year, a story rich with the interaction of sophisticated characters. This month, in The Blind Man, we see a more distant story with a stronger focus, and a completely different set of characters. I really didn’t like it when I first read it, but I won’t say why here; I’ll leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
Bruce Holland Rogers’s Short-Short Sighted column, Consolidated Flash and the Collective Narrator, covers a lot of ground this month. When we left off last month, he talked about how short a story can be. Now he asks how long flash can be, without padding; this leads him to a discussion of fixed forms again (one of his favorite topics), and finally winds up with a discussion of the first person plural narrator. Bruce is a grand artificer: I highly recommend you check out both the column and its accompanying story, We Stand Up — a moving story in its own right.