Monday, September 24, 2007

Reader's Diary #294- Stuart Dybek: Brisket

Short Story Monday

I discovered flash fiction with John Gould's fantastic collection, Kilter- 55 Fictions. For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, it's basically a short short story. The criteria varies, but I've never seen anything with more than 1000 words still considered flash.

I think fans of poetry are more open to the idea of flash fiction, as they are more likely to see the charm and purpose of succinctness. That said, I don't think a love for poetry is a prerequisite. They still read like stories, and when done well, it's amazing how much they fit in in terms of character development, plot, and so forth.

This week, I challenge you to read Stuart Dybek's "Brisket" (available here from SmokeLong Quarterly). It's just two short pages, so go ahead!

Now that you're back, let me know what you thought. After getting past the parts that made me hungry, I think it had a lot to do with striking a balance between "not sweating the small stuff" and "not taking the small things for granted." On the one hand, when he thinks of concentration camps, his problems look minimal and insignificant. But then on the other hand, when he minimized the importance of minor events, he ended up unemployed and alone. I guess it's as much about perspective as anything else.

Why did he choose to set this in a deli? I'm not sure. Perhaps deli meats are a good representation of character differences. They might all appear the same, but the flavours are all so unique. At least that's one theory. Any ideas?

Perhaps the only thing I wasn't fussy on was having so much dialogue saved up for the end. It somehow didn't balance the piece for me and it felt a little chopped off.

Still, great flash fiction.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

These are perfect for sneak-reading at work. It's amazing how much one can say in such a short piece. I can get behind flash fiction.

Allison said...

I can get behind flash fiction as well. But now I'm hungry and I was already craving pickles. Ah well.

I'm currently enjoying David Sedaris's Santaland Diaries, which is a collection of short stories.

Melwyk said...

Oh, I loved Gould's "Kilter". I read it a while ago; perhaps I should look into it again.