Too Short to Bother With? A Case for Microfiction



Publication Details

Cosgrove, S. E. "Too Short to Bother With? A Case for Microfiction." Influence and Confluence: East and West. Ed. M. Lee. Shanghai: International Conference of the Short Story in English, 2017. 52-64.


The short-short story goes by many names, often delineated by word counts - such as microfiction (200 words or less), flash fiction (750 words or less) and sudden fiction (2000 words or less). In this paper, I explore the microfiction -work driven by narrative that fits on a page and frequently within a paragraph. My starting point is the assertion by one Pif Magazine online reader that the form 'will by no means fill you up, (leaving you) to wonder whether or not it was worth reading in the first place'. I argue microfiction is an important form because it allows readers to engage deeply with story because of its frequent reliance on implication to carry meaning. That is, the actual narrative arc may well take place outside the limits of the text - consider the mythic example often attributed to Ernest Hemingway: 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.' Due to brevity, microfiction often establishes parameters of story, leaving the reader to imagine larger contexts. I argue this imaginative work can implicate and engage readers in a way particular to the microfiction. Paul Theroux says the short-short story 'should not be mistaken for an anecdote; it is highly calculated - its effects, its timing. In most cases it contains a novel' (228). With this in mind, I closely read microfictions by Australian and American authors, reading for the 'novels' these short works might well contain. These readings will be done while making the case that microfiction is a singular genre that demands great care in both its reading and its writing. Theroux, Paul. "The Tradition." Sudden Fiction American Short-Short Stories. Eds. Robert Shapard and James Thomas. Layton: Gibbs Smith Publishers, 1986. Print. Atran. Comment on "The Essentials of Micro-Fiction." Pif Magazine. 1998. Web. 22 Dec 2015. .

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.