I have recently begun to get into Flash Fiction. It is a very demanding genre for the writer and the reader. I was happy to see that one of my favorite short story writers, Valerie Sirr (here is a link to my posts on two of her short stories and one to a very perceptive guest post she honored my blog with) has several work in the form. Flash fiction because of its extreme brevity requires, when done with the skill of Valerie Sirr, extreme compression of meaning into a very brief space. My main purpose of posting on her two stories is to, by the process of writing on them, clarify my understanding of the works and to let my readers know about these two stories. (They can be read through links on Sirr's webpage and I will provide a link at the end of my post.)
In posting on flash fiction I do not feel an impulse to retell the plot (would you retell the plot of "Sailing to Byzantium"?) and I do not want to write a post longer than the story! Different readers will react in different ways to flash fiction and I want to not over-direct readers experiences.
"Tyrants" is a very brief work. I was intrigued and drawn in by the very unique opening lines. "You make your father lie down on the floor. You lie flat on your tummy on your father's back and your little sister lies on yours. You are the ham. They are the bread." This is a wonderful story about family dynamics which makes a very creative connection to one of the central events of world history. It is also a lot of fun to read and very funny.
"Robbed" is a little bit longer than "Tyrants". It is a story of a man past his youth, divorced, made redundant from his job. When we first meet him he is watching the Cookstown 100, a well known motor cycle race in County Tyrone, Ireland. He imagines himself standing in the winners circle clutching a trophy. I cringed and laughed when he ran into one of his friends as he was entering a pub and the other man said, "Don't walk in with me. They'll think I'm going for a drink with me Da".
Something exciting and dangerous happens to the man but it helps him feel a bit less like an old man.
This was a wonderful story that compressed a huge amount of life in a few beautifully written paragraphs.
Here is the official biography of Valerie Sirr
Valerie Sirr is a writer from Dublin. She began writing after graduating with her Diploma in Advanced Computer Programming from Trinity College, Dublin. She became interested in psychology and studied at University College, Dublin, for her B.A. hons. Psychology degree, going on to study at London’s Institute of Psychiatry. She holds an M. Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin, and has published and broadcast many short stories both in Ireland and Britain with stories currently under consideration in the US. She received the Hennessy New Irish Writer Award and the Hennessy Award for Emerging Fiction and was awarded two Arts Council of Ireland literature bursaries. She also won the William Allingham, Elizabeth Newsom and Nora Fahy short story awards. Her radio play was shortlisted for RTE radio’s PJ O Connor award. She teaches creative writing and literature appreciation, part-time, and has facilitated writing workshops for Dublin Simon Community and other groups in the community. She is in the process of looking for a publisher for her collection of short stories.