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Less is more: completing narratives in miniature fiction

Hurley, UK and Trimarco, P 2008, 'Less is more: completing narratives in miniature fiction' , 21: Journal of Contemporary and Innovative Fiction, 1 (1) , pp. 82-93.

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    Abstract

    This essay examines how readers interpret and interact with miniature fiction by completing the narratives in these extremely short stories. This is not to suggest that more traditional short stories have always provided complete narratives, but what we have found with miniature fiction is that the reader is more often required to complete the narrative in order for the story to make sense. At the same time, this inferencing process makes readers respond to these stories as they would to texts belonging to other genres. Specifically, we will consider the following pieces of writing: an untitled 6-word story by Graham Swift, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ (148 words) by David Gaffney, ‘Water’ (186 words) by Fred Leebron, and ‘Sparkles’ (175 words) by Louise Yeiser. We have chosen these texts because in our opinion each provides a striking illustration of what ‘short shorts’ require of the reader in order for them to make sense. It could be argued that each text demands more of its readers than the previous; hence the order of our discussion is incremental in terms of the complexity of the texts in question. Common to all four texts are the following: • Inferences made to comprehend the narrative • Inferences employed from known social narratives • Inferences of the types used in reading texts from other genres. Within this general examination of inferences, factors specific to each text will also be analysed.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Article developed from conference papers given at 'The story shall be changed: tales and retellings in the short story', Edge Hill University, 21 July 2007
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Short fiction
    Themes: Subjects / Themes > P Language and Literature > PR English literature
    Subjects / Themes > P Language and Literature > PS American literature
    Memory, Text and Place
    Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for English Literature and Language
    Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences
    Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
    Journal or Publication Title: 21: Journal of Contemporary and Innovative Fiction
    Publisher: Edge Hill University
    Refereed: Yes
    ISSN: 1759281X
    Depositing User: Dr Ursula Hurley
    Date Deposited: 06 May 2009 13:50
    Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013 16:57
    References: Bakhtin, M.M. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Michael Holquist, ed. Austin: University of Texas Press. Bulman, C. (2007) Creative Writing: A Guide and Glossary to Fiction Writing. Cambridge: Polity. Fowler, Roger. (1996) Linguistic Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gaffney, David. (2005) ‘The Kids Are Alright’ in Transmission, Issue 2, p.12. Information on Transmission is available on http://www.transmissionhq.org (accessed October 2008). Gessell, Paul. (2004) Article in The Ottawa Standard, January 29 as cited in http://www.wordspy.com (accessed October 2008). Jefferies, Lesley. (2007) ‘What Makes English into Art?’ in Redesigning English, eds Goodman et al. London: Routledge. Labov, W and Waletzky, J. (1967) 'Narrative analysis: oral versions of personal experience,' in J. Helms (ed) Essays and on the Verbal and Visual Arts. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Leebron, Fred. (1992) ‘Water’ in Flash Fiction 72 Very Short Stories. eds Thomas et al. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. pp. 157-158 Nair, R. B. (2002) Narrative Gravity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rhodes, D. (2005) Anthropology: And a Hundred Other Stories Edinburgh: Canongate Rosen, Michael. (2005) In the Colonie. London: Penguin. Simpson, Paul. (1997) Language Through Literature. London: Routledge. Stern, Jerome, ed. (1996) Microfiction: An Anthology of Really Short Stories. New York: W. W. Norton. Swift, Graham. (2007) Untitled short story in The Guardian Weekend. 24 March, p. 35. Thomas, James. (1992) ‘Introduction’ in Flash Fiction, 72 Very Short Stories. eds Thomas et al. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. pp. 11 – 14. Thurber, James. (1940) Fables for Our Time & Famous Poems Illustrated. New York: Harper and Brothers. Toolan, Michael. (2001) Narrative: A Critical Linguistic Introduction. London: Routledge. University of Victoria. (1995) Writer’s Guide. Available online at http://web.uvic.ca/wguide/Pages/LTFable.html (accessed July 2008) Yeiser, Louise. (2007) ‘Sparkles’ in Six Sentences. Available online at http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/search?q=louise+yeiser (accessed July 2008)
    URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/1935

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