Round 80: Winners

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Winners
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Flash Frenzy Round 80 has come and gone, and AV Laidlaw has performed admirably in his role as judge. Here are his comments and top picks.

Crosswords and Elvis Impersonators, escapologists and the infinity of space and time, these are a few of my favourite things… Thanks to Ashwin Rao for the photo prompt, it inspired a set of very different stories.

The Stage of Life – The shortest entry, its brevity hiding the complex emotions of fraternal love and betrayal. There’s a wonderful minimalism to the image at the key moment of the story- “he simply closed his eyes”. Telling less can be more.

Ahimsamsara – This reminded me a little of one of my favourite writers – Jorge Luis Borges (if you never have, go and read, go and read now)- with its spirituality and glimpse into esoteric knowledge. I love how it shifts from the academic discussion of origins of the word “Ahimsamsara” into the sketches of people waiting for the train. Also my favourite last line -“the whispered language of leaves.”

Sleight of Hand – Never get on the wrong side of a magician.  I like the way this story is structured, putting the exposition about the rivalry between Byron and Terry late in the story so the tension is stretched before the final paragraph.

Kite Children – Here the narrator has such a strong voice, I have a real sense of her character, who she is and what she wants, with barely any details about her given in the story.  All the details – the cut on the knee, wondering how they eat- are seen through the eyes of a mother which sells her sense of guilt about the child beyond her reach. And it grounds in emotional reality the stunning central of image of the kite children without the need for a great deal of exposition and back story.

Jukebox Time Machine – Blimey, I’m old enough to remember A Flock of Seagulls without the help of a time machine (who could forget that haircut?) Some great metaphors – “the slow moving knife that snaked through my body” & “angelic white Stratocaster” – in this lovely tribute to the power of music to help through the bad times.

Love and Beyond – What seems to be a story about a failing marriage takes a sudden swerve at the end. I like how the writing keeps close to the emotions of the woman, her sadness and loneliness, before the twist is delivered with three simple, short lines. It makes the story so much more than “bet you never saw that coming.”

Some Like it Hot and the Flickering Heat Camera of Love Expectations – Best title of the week, of the year, of ever, I had to type it out in full again. All these fragmented images, so rich in language, finally resolve into a poem of plain actions. The contrast of Hollywood against the mundanely of real life. All this and  “a crossword puzzle of desire”.

Burdened – A boy growing up learns that people can behave without malice but still with cruelty – “compassion had a shelf life”. There’s good word choices in here – “the pillars of his mother and father” – especially the way the repetition of “burden” gives the story a cast iron structure – “they burdened … his burden … unburdened”.

A Dot in the Night Sky – A mythical, mystical tone woven through a story that seems both sad and hopeful at the same time. Abandoning traditional science fiction explanations for lyricism creates something. Befitting the subject, a piece far bigger than its 226 words that left me taking a deep breath and thinking after I’d finished reading it.

The Quest for the Truth – A comic tale – Elvis impersonators are always comic, right? That also has a more serious theme, the pull of belief (no matter what you have faith in) even when you’re unwilling to follow it – “disbelieving where his feet were heading”. This push and pull of the central character’s quest makes him more than a nameless figure of fun, but a full and rounded personality.

SPREAD THE WORD – A neat tone to this tale, the wry narrator carries the story – “Pete said it was content. I said it was a scary mask”. It captures the spirit of a kid, the sense of freedom from adult conformity.

The Sentinels – I love the opening darkly description in the opening paragraph, followed by the switch from the slightly distant, reporterish 3rdperson into the full on hysteria of the 1st person Marie. It adds punch to the idea that we don’t – or choose not to – see the effect of wars.

Results:

3rd Burdened by Steph Ellis

2nd A Dot in the Night Sky by Mark A King

And our Round 80 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Sal Page

with Kite Children

In a week of strong stories, this one stood out for me. It fits perfectly into the short word count, without an ounce of unnecessary explanation to detract from the emotion of the narrator.  If anyone asks me the point of flash fiction, I’ll give them this story to read.

Congratulations, Sal! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie.

October is a busy month for me, and I have two commitments that will have me away from my computer and may prevent me from posting in a timely manner. Thus, there will be no Flash Frenzy this upcoming weekend, October 3-4,  or the weekend of the 24-25th. All other weekends will proceed as usual. Have a lovely week, and we’ll see you all back here on the 10th.

 

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