An atypical one today at the Wigleaf Top Fifty, Laura Ellen Scott’s Render, or to Transmit to Another
It is at elimae. It is at elimae. It is at elimae.
My head dried stick to the ground…
Opening line: “It has been a couple of years since a woman I did not know sent me by email, the picture of her fiance’s corpse.”
Voice established, and voice is key here, in that a strange, unsettling tale is spun out, but also a character–the narrator–is revealed. I really admire this flash for how is is NOT like many others. We all know flash is often image based, leaning poetic, a burst, a bang, a fade-out of sensory blur near the conclusion…all of that. And I love those flashes, but look what is going on here:
1.) A story told not shown. (A friend of mine said all fairy tales are told, not shown. Is this a fairy tale? Discuss.)
2.) Almost a 19th century, Chekhovian feel to the voice. “Dear reader, come with me to discuss this incident…”
I mean to say accumulation: “business” “contract” “formalized conclusion”
My head by the bed, red shoes.
The words merge, couple, thread throughout to give us an atmosphere…
I mean to say Bartleby, the Scrivener (one of the oddest stories ever, and a line I steal often…Sean, stop drinking that giant beer, Sean stop eating nachos 41 days in a row, Sean, get off the treadmill….I would prefer not to.”)
Opening of Bartleby: “I am a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written:—I mean the law-copyists or scriveners.”
My head all sings when he stripes shirts.
Like Melville here, or certainly Chekhov in many of his excellent (and often overlooked) flash fictions, Laura Ellen Scott (for some reason I like typing out her entire name) opens us up to a glimpse, a moment/movement, a fable (?), cracks open, I want to use the word exquisite, or create an image here of a jeweled Faberge egg. Now open the egg; I think it has a golden hinge. Inside the egg is a slip of paper. Folded. What is the meaning of the paper? Unfold the paper. Carefully.
I’d like to return to voice. I want to say haunting. It seems the narrator had this happen, and now is changed, disturbed (as in awoken some way), some residue of the event hanging in the air. Isn’t it the same with Bartleby? I suppose I keep comparing the two as a form of compliment, and a working out in my mind, or: How do these stories do this?
3.) A series of declarative statements, almost a wisdom.
“There was no foul play.”
“My parents, like your parents, believed that the whole of life is construction: collect, make.”
“Experience, for example, is a word for something that never happens, and yet its four syllables build an arc of rising and falling action.”
Let’s return to voice, or narrator. We feel we can follow. We actually trust. And the matter-of-fact telling, the purposeful psychic distance (cool, calm, there is nothing hysterical or dramatic, and we are discussing a corpse here!) somehow attracts the reader, deepens us into the tale.
My head all thinning mints. Thinning mints. Dad I’m going to grow up and be a mint-thinner. Fine son. You do that. No idle hands, etc.
Again, I’m not sure how. The technique. And I am dancing around this flash like some insect buzzing a new type of plant it doesn’t quite understand.
That’s a good thing.
You go to the ballpark and you eat the nachos. That’s how. Everyone is running around, yammering about The Dream, when all you do is go to ballpark and you eat the nachos. I’ll be damned if I’m not going to…you little!! Come back here! Oh, this is exasperating. GO TO THE FUCKING BALLPARK AND EAT THE NACHOS!!
Ok, calm down…
calm your spirit, Sean.
Sometimes my head feels like a heart, thumping. Or should I say naked as Chit-Chat. Blar.