University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Bright Sparks

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Oct 20, 2008

Flash fiction is the literary equivalent of hotpants: there are short shorts, and then there are short shorts, and that is the best way to sum up flash fiction.

The works are usually 1,000 words or less, but most still have a beginning, middle and an end, a protagonist, a setting and so on. The most famous example is Ernest Hemingway’s six word flash: ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’.

Last Tuesday was the first of a new monthly literary event at Kemptown’s cosy Upstairs at the Three and Ten venue, a flash fiction evening named Sparks. Writers were invited to submit a story, and those chosen could read their work for the local literati.

‘For those wanting to hear some new literary voices I recommend it’

Each reading was accompanied by a specially commissioned photograph projected behind the author as they spoke, and the writers seemed pleasantly surprised by the artists’ visual interpretations of their work. The atmosphere was casual and friendly, and the organisers were excited to see a fairly full house.

The stories seemed to fit into two main categories: realist and surrealist. Melissa Mann and Steve Finbow both wittily captured the essence of modern London, while Sara Crowley tickled the audience’s funny bones with ‘Porn Mallow’, her hilarious character study of an eccentric lady named Joyce.

On the stranger side, a Finnish guy sent in a morality tale about dwarves on a bus, and Martin Reed contributed ‘Something Three’, an impressively intricate, yet slightly confusing story, which I think was about trees.

If your last contact with literature was at GCSE, then steer clear of ‘Sparks’, but for those of you interested
in hearing some exciting new literary voices or finding an outlet for your own creativity, I strongly recommend it.

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