Nose (WBR 14) by Jim Hanas & James Beaudreau
Fiction is getting shorter, they say, and they (like always) seem to be right. The Mississippi Review, an important literary journal, recently announced that it will produce a flash fiction issue, and wherever voting and favoriting and electronic "liking" mix with fiction on the Internet, the shortest rise to the top. Evidently short is to online storytelling as humiliating (and also short) is to YouTube. I should be glad, I suppose. I write short. I once talked to a novelist who only wrote long, and she said she couldn't write short. She found short confining, and she suggested that maybe the difference between long and short writers had to do with how heavy words seemed to them. I liked that. It made me feel noble instead of flawed.
But my idea of short is still a bit longer than short is becoming. I like a story that's three or five thousand words. You can get somewhere with that. Flash fiction word counts, on the other hand, run in the hundreds--and there is more 140-character fiction on Twitter than you could ever read. Call me traditional (or simply caught in the middle) but as word counts float below 1,000, I start to feel cheated of depth. Not that I haven't indulged...
"Nose" first appeared in the second issue of a Chicago-based literary journal called Bridge: Stories & Ideas in 2001, and it was inspired by a very bad date I had with a very beautiful woman--something I hadn't known was possible until it happened. At 533 words, it's the shortest thing I've ever published. Bad for the theory just put forth, but good for the collaboration at hand. James has crafted its reading into a pleasingly cacophonous track--and yes, "The Gift" from White Light/White Heat came up during our discussions--that clocks in at about three and half minutes. Just a bit longer, you might be interested to know, than the average YouTube video. -- Jim Hanas
Nose (WBR 14) by Jim Hanas & James Beaudreau is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.