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Monday, February 14, 2011

Reader's Diary #686- Margaret Atwood: Untitled corpse/doctor story

I admit it, I'm pressed for time here. But as I've sworn to review at least one short story per week, I've gone looking for flash fiction, micro-fiction, something that gets my synapses firing. And I've really struck gold. This comes from a 2006 edition of Wired magazine: 6 word sci-fi stories. By now there's a good chance you've heard of Ernest Hemingway's 6 word masterpiece:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
But how about 6 word stories from Orson Scott Card? William Shatner? Alan Moore? This is a pretty interesting list of authors, and the quality of the stories ranges from-- okay, a headline doesn't constitute a story to wow, it's amazing how 6 words can be a complete tale. None approach the genius of Hemingway's, but some come close. And while some authors seem pre-occupied with a punch line, some of the fun ones still work. One of my favourites comes from Margaret Atwood:
Corpse parts missing. Doctor buys yacht.
See? Like Hemingway's story, there's an actual character and plot. The beginning is missing, but that's the mystery that makes the story appealing. What the hell is the doctor doing with those corpse parts to make money? Delightfully twisted.

I wrote one a while ago that I'll share:

She binged on life, then purged.


Feel free to add your own below.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

9 comments:

emeire said...

Thank you so much for this post, John! It comes very helpful for one of my thesis arguments. I didn't know this piece by Atwood, but I'll make good use of it :)
The one by Hemingway is fantastic, very powerful...
Here is my post:
http://emeire.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/emilys-husband…l-m-montgomery/

Em

John Mutford said...

Emeire: If you don't mind sharing, what might that thesis argument be?

Loni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loni said...

I really like the very short short stories. They remind me of the six sentence story I reviewed in April.
I read another short one this week, not six words or even sentences, but a lengthy 3 paragraphs.
http://loniseye.blogspot.com/2011/02/three-things-you-should-know-about.html

Teddy Rose said...

I love reading through 6 word short stories, they are a lot of fun. I wrote a 6 word memoir back in 2008:
"Life's too short and too long!" LOL!

I read 'The Basement Room': http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2011/02/basement-room-by-graham-greene.html

emeire said...

As you might know, I'm working on Atwood's short fiction. A part of my thesis is on how she uses (and subverts) the genre of the short story and its subgenres. I discuss methods of suggestion and flash fiction is a good example to illustrate this argument.
I had a look at the link you provide and there are a couple more by her :)
Em

Allison said...

I love a good six word story. This trend was all ablaze on Twitter last night. Highly amusing.

Loni said...

Em, have you read Atwood's "The Seventh Future"? It was first published in a magazine, then she put the full text on her Year Of The Flood Blog. I think it could be helpful for you. I certainly enjoyed it and found it interesting.

http://marg09.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/the-seventh-future-israelpalestine/

emeire said...

Thanks Loni!
I remember seeing this on her blog, I must go back to it and read it.
Em