When I was a career-driven twenty-something, I worked long hours and had little time or energy at night to read. But I grew up loving books and short stories proved to be the perfect genre and length for keeping up my bedtime reading habit.
Loopholes by Thirroul based author, Susan McCreery, is a collection of microfiction, or very short stories. Wiktionary.org defines the genre as, “Fiction that has a significantly shorter than average length.” Synonyms include drabble, flash fiction, flashfic, short short story, sudden fiction and even twitterature.
The microfiction in McCreery’s Loopholes range in length from several paragraphs on one or two pages—it’s published in a handy 140 page, 165 mm by 165 mm, pocket or handbag-sized paperback—to only three short sentences.
By definition brevity is the key to good microfiction. There is no time for plot and character development, so every word must count. McCreery plunges the reader into her perfectly formed glimpses of everyday lives. She gives us no time to settle in and catch our breath before wrenching us back out to reflect upon what we’ve read, what may have lead to the situation, and how it might end.
Microfiction relies on the skill of the writer and the imagination of the reader to tell a story. McCreery’s gift is in writing immediately recognisable vignettes. A perfect example is the shortest piece in the collection—the three-sentence long, Tough Love. A father brings home his daughter from hospital. We don’t know the nature or extent of her injuries, but we are left believing in a father’s love and determination for his daughter’s recovery.
Microfiction will not be to every reader’s taste. Some may consider it a modern malaise, where the pace of life has become too fast to enjoy a leisurely read. Or Twitter–esque, where US Presidential pronouncements are now reduced to a 140-character tweet. And yet microfiction is not as recent a form as some might imagine. Ernest Hemingway is said to have written the following in response to a challenge to write a six word novel: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Loopholes by Susan McCreery is an excellent example of microfiction. I wish I had found the genre back when I was a younger man and short on reading time. But I’m glad I’ve read it now as a middle-aged man—it has even inspired me to dabble in the form!
I recommend you buy a copy of Loopholes for your own pocket or handbag.