His careful interplay of words and images are often first-rate; and the stories DO have points, although sometimes as a reader you must hunt for them. They all jump right into a narrative, usually fully underway, leaving you feeling as though you just barely jumped onto the trailing car of a fast train, pulling out of a dark station without a clear destination in mind.
And some of the stories take place seemingly at the cellular level, where you must hack your way through jungles of microbes and nanobots to find the story’s true meaning.
But I am convinced the author isn’t much interested in whether the reader can fully comprehend each piece. Rather, again, like a good — and possibly great — artist, he has penned his stories with guile and a liberal smattering of arcane and truly unusual words and phrases as though he would be delighted to know his readers were having to re-read entire long passages to uncover the hidden meaning embedded therein.
I rather liked “The Road to Nowhere,” which chronicles the efforts of an unnamed people trying to figure out where a road goes. In the end, however, they stop exploring, afraid to see what lies beyond the seemingly endless horizon.
One phrase from that story, at the very end, is worth noting: “It kept them from wandering, from encountering the dark, unknown parts of themselves.”
In “Cop Aesthetic,” we seem to see two sides of a police officer, who begins the story by taking his daughter to a zoo, but ends by sitting across the table from a shackled, dangerous felon. The imagery evoked, regarding predatory animals, is chilling.
In “Still Ill,” a man who has been posing as a silver-painted mechanical man, apparently in a large city, has developed a reaction — possibly fatal — to his silver body paint. Best line from that one: “My mind focused in on emptying itself, devoted to harnessing the body to its strict oversight. And yet behind my paralyzed husk, my mind is free to roam.”
In “Type O Negative” the main — and only — character has been irradiated, subjecting her to bizarre speech patterns. At the end, she cries for help. But you can tell it’s too late.
Wikipedia defines flash fiction as fiction of extreme brevity. Works can range from three hundred words to a thousand. The genre has a notable past, stretching apparently into prehistory, and practiced by no less than Walt Whitman. No wonder these stories sometimes seem closer to long poetry than prose.
As I said, this sort of fiction is new to me and, while I’m not sure everyone will appreciate what Marc Nash has written down for posterity, I am convinced that he puts a lot of thought into his craft, and I applaud him for his artistry.
About this blog
An exploration of the world of Ingrid Hall - book reviews and a little bit of Newcastle history. They do say variety is the spice of life!