EXPERIMENTS IN FICTION
Call it montage, or the 3-D or multidimensional story, or literary polyphony, the point remains the same: To get away from the linear, one point-of-view, one-tense format in short story writing, which allows for little variety. The solution? To innovate.
Our new feature, “Waiting for the Superhero”— about a man trying to survive in a tough urban landscape– is an attempt to do so. The story plays with viewpoint– to increase angles– and with time. The trick is to do this without hindering the flow of the narrative. Indeed, if well utilized, the technique will increase drama and pace.
Putting fragments of writing together– like editing film– isn’t simple, but opens up endless creative possibilities. Expect to see us go way beyond what we’re showing to date. Just saying.
He moved into the basement of a nearby vacant building. The several-storied structure was in receivership; kept by the bank which owned it in a modicum of shape. There, Ernesto created a cave. An escape. A small window, easily pried, provided access.
The first night he noticed a visitor in the form of a pair of green eyes. A cat.
In daylight he realized the cat was more or less black. Ernesto adopted its guise. So garbed, in the evening he became invisible, blending into the night.
(Art: “Night Over the City” by Otto Dix.)
DURING THIS our Summer Reading Festival we’ve already run two of the best stories which could be found anywhere that inhabit the literary end of the pop-lit spectrum. Today we have a short story more on the pop end, “The Boiling Point of Placid Water” by Andrew Hughes.
In groping for new ways to write a short story, one of the variables to be considered is a story’s pace. This particular tale runs with the racing speed of a turbocharged vehicle, propelling the reader forward and not letting go until the conclusion. Are elements sacrificed? Interiority? Detail? Possibly– but remember as with an Impressionist painting, the mind fills in details based on its own experience. As compensation in the meaning department, we have the story’s inescapable political context. Also, with Puerto Rico, a distinct sense of place. Minimal trade-off for what’s gained.
The sum of it all is the creation, in a mere 2500 words, of a nightmarish world where nothing is stable or predictable. A whirlpool of surprise and terror. Kind of like the world we’re living in now.
Enjoy the experience!
“This is a bad idea,” said Guzman. They were dressed in their finest suits in the back of a limo.
“Carlos, this is what we’ve been waiting for.”
“José, he’s going to deny having any deals with Shell and you’re going to look like a colluder and bang, your public base is gone.”
“We have documents proving the connection.”
“Fuck your documents,” said Guzman.
(Featured art: “Force of a Curve” by Tullio Crali.)