Short Thoughts on Short Fiction: Charlie Coleman, Fiona Johnson, Anonymous-9

short thoughts on short fiction[ed note: I’m particularly pleased with todays post. A couple of years ago while writing for another site I started the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction column as a way to keep up with the fiction that was being published online. It was originally designed as a way for me to keep up with the stories so I wouldn’t be hit with a heavy reading load when it was time to make the selections for the Spinetingler Award AND as a way to give some publicity to the zines and their writers. The plan was that I would read one story a day M-F and post the column sometime over the weekend. I did this for awhile before passing the mantle over to Keith Rawson who broadened the scope of the column to include collections and anthologies. Short Thoughts on Short Fiction had a good run but did eventually end. Until today. R Thomas Brown will be writing the column for Spinetingler.

After the jump see what his thoughts are on stories by Charlie Coleman, Fiona Johnson and Anonymous-9. — Brian Lindenmuth]

Short Thoughts on Short Fiction

After a weekend of home remodeling projects and a house full of family, I found myself in the mood for some weird fiction. When my taste for crime stories takes the turn toward the odd, I can usually find something over at Pulp Metal to hit the spot.

Today, I consumed the dialog heavy tale, Pineapple, by Charlie Coleman. Mr. Coleman lets the dialog fly fast and furious with interruptions, recollections and sidetracking. The effect is an authentic conversation, or rather conversations. The content is a disjointed retelling of an incident. Nothing major, just the kind of scuffle you might expect from a pair of people with a history of sporadic connections to the wrong side of law enforcement.

Woven into the retelling of the fight, is the plan the two men had hatched, as well as hints at previous grand schemes. These are not quite the work of criminal masterminds, but see like the genuine “brilliant” ideas that spew forth from the minds of the criminals that populate Cops or Bait Car. Not quite smart, and far too clever.

Taken as a whole, it s a satisfying look at criminals, their plans and attitudes and their mindset about each other as well as the work, or rather the desire to not do much of it. It’s also a humorous examination of the motives behind assault with deadly, or at least dangerous, tropical fruit. But it’s the dialog and personalities of the two combatants that elevate this story.

With that bit of fiction digested (thankfully I’m not allergic to pineapple, though I imagine I’d feel pretty bad if I used it that way), I headed over to a couple of favorite places for flash fiction. These brief crime tales have really exploded in popularity recently, and a few places really stand out for me as go to locations for the short stuff. A short punch of crime fiction is a great way to start the week.

Over at Shotgun Honey, Fiona Johnson brings us another in her series of Gemma stories, Fragile Bones. A couple of detectives, Gemma and McGuire, are searching for a missing little girl. The search carries a serious tone, but is joined to some witty and light banter from the two searchers. The tension builds, but you get the image of two people used to the task, aware of where it will lead, and both accustomed to the possible horror, and using what they have to cope. When the girl is found, the story shifts to the mother. The emotion grows heavy and the loss of played out in both dialog and the description of the home with its missing piece. It’s a powerful story.

At The Flash Fiction Offensive, Anonymous-9 crafts a nice little tale while promoting her collection, Hard Bite. In this tale, Return Of The Night Of The Living Dead Monkey From Sunset Boulevard, the narrator spins a tale of the macabre and absurd. The details are wild, compelling, ridiculous, hilarious and pathetic. However, it is the little details that push the right buttons. Trigger happy goats, and incompetent actress, butchered lines, the longing of an undead primate. All these elements blend together and yield a laugh out loud yarn that is unlikely to have the outcome the narrator hopes.

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R Thomas Brown

R. Thomas Brown is the Flash Fiction Editor at Spinetingler and writes the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction series. His writing appears around the web and links can be found at his website. "Hill Country" will be coming out in 2012 from Snubnose Press. When not writing or reading, he is a clueless husband and father of three inspiring and exhausting children.

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8 comments

  1. I love short stories and adore short story collections. Life is a much, much happier place for me since I found them.

  2. Aw, what a proud day to see SToSF’s glorious return! Great job, Ron. Of course if I was still running the column I would have used a lot more profanity. But, ya know, that’s just how I roll.

  3. Three great writers. And I’m very glad to see this column, there’s so much great short fiction on the web and I’m glad Spinetingler is not just publishing it but also reviewing it.

  4. Mr. Brown, thank you so much for mentioning my silly story. I own the SUNSET BOULEVARD DVD and I can practically quote the lines by heart. I was curious why the famous line “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” was never parodied. Then I found out why–it’s a NIGHTMARE to rhyme. Not wanting to back away from the challenge, I came up with my crazy story. I’m so glad everybody got a laugh.
    Anonymous-9

  5. I’m delighted to see Charlie Coleman’s ‘Pineapple’ get a write up here. I’ve been a fan of his over at Pulp Metal since the beginning. He’s a fantastic writer. His stories are often playful on the surface, but always carries a punch that shows depth.

    Anon-9 is always surprising and imaginative. If folks enjoyed this story, they’d LOVE her short story antho, Hard bite. I’ve just finished reading and every single story is lively, fresh and smoking hawt.

  6. Thanks to all for the positive feedback. This is actually the second trip for the two main characters of Pineapple, Gannon and Leary. They debuted in the 2/5/10 issue of PMM in Wake Up Call.

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