For today I want to look at a work of flash fiction. This will happen occasionally on this blog when something specially motivates me to look at the described work. In this case, I was reading the short story collection named below. I followed a hyperlink to the authors website. Doing that got me a free book, “A Gentlewoman’s Chronicles,” to be reviewed at a later date. Downloading that book got me a question from the author, which led to the following short review.
And…… a note on short reviews. They are obviously short when looking at flash fiction. If the review is longer than the tale told, somebody might be doing something wrong. Other than that, for the time being (like the next six months) I will attempt to keep my reviews short. I started this blog for my university students at Ma Chung University in Malang, Indonesia. People of all ages, in school or out, describe Indonesia as a “non-reading culture.” Many times students, even in university, use this as a culturally reinforced excuse not to read. I believe reading is THE way to develop language. So I write short reviews that my English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students can read quickly without resorting to a dictionary. The overall aim is to get them interested enough to find and read the books reviewed. It is also the reason for exploring several genres.
Having said all that… I want to comment on:
Twin Souls by Michael Coorlim from Stories on the Go: 101 Very Short Stories by 101 Authors
Our unnamed narrator’s last words to sister was “I wish you were dead.” But Sis isn’t dead; the unnamed narrator is. One of the things I like about flash fiction are the questions left for the reader. I look at the title and make assumptions; the unnamed narrator is male. Why would I make such an assumption? Because in our patriarchal society good girls do not die. The girl here is a cop. Cops are good, which makes her a good girl (woman). The narrator is bad because “he” died. “He” obviously had some flaw and received earned justice to compensate for the flaw.
There is a possible, but not definite, indication of the gender of the narrator in the next to last paragraph. Question 1: What is the narrator’s gender?
This is a comforting tale which emphasizes for us not only the existence of an afterlife, but a benevolent role for those who departed before us. They can help us dealing with the dangers in the present, like the guy hiding in the closet who is trying to shoot Sis. With just a nudge from her guardian and a nod of the head to gut instinct, Sis can live another day. This time.
But is our unnamed narrator truly helpful? Does “he” have another motive? Question 2: What is the motive of the narrator in helping Sis? The last few lines of the story leave the reader to think about it. They made the story worth reading; of course I won’t reveal them here. That would be a spoiler.