The deal is this: you go to www.shortshortshort.com,
hand over your $5 and for the next year you'll receive three short-short
stories a month by Nebula and World Fantasy award-winning author Bruce
Holland Rogers. The stories come with a brief intro to give us any interesting
context (we may have encountered the characters before, or the story
may be related to something else Rogers is working on); for fuller background
on the process of producing these stories, there's a blog at www.livejournal.com/users/bruce_h_r
I'm not aware of anyone else working in quite this way -- there have
been novels serialised by e-mail or on websites, there have been various
models for subscription-based fiction websites, but a single author
producing 36 stories a year for a subscription list? Not many authors
would dare, and very few combine the mastery of the form with an ability
to produce in such a varied range of style and subject -- Bruce Holland
Rogers is really several writers in a single package.
It's hard to write short-shorts with the impact of something longer.
Or perhaps that's just my experience as a reader of the form. They tend
to be fleeting, here and then gone, the mayflies of fiction -- and who
remembers an individual mayfly when it's gone? Rogers' miniatures are
meticulously crafted, and every sentence, every word, is loaded with
significance. These pieces are still fleeting, but some of the shards
stick long after the reading, and you can't ask for much more than that.
Taking the six stories from March and April 2005, we have a fantastical,
philosophical crime story, a parable, a linguist's fantasy, a chilling
character piece and a couple that are unclassifiable. "My Crimes" is
nominally an account of a series of crimes, but soon takes us into the
preposterously fantastic. "Look, There He Is!" is a clever story told
in dialogue between the storyteller and his/her questioner, embedding
a parable of a man who just wants to be admired into a subtle teasing
out of the two speakers' understanding. "Some Nights It's Romanian"
is a fine example of a story built up inside its own flawless logic.
"The Perturbing Case of Doctor Anapest" is a fun story of the battle
in the library stacks between order and disorder, Dewey Decimal versus
The two highlights for me are "We Stand Up" and "Aerodynamics for Girls".
"We Stand Up" is the shortest of these six pieces, and it packs the
mightiest punch. Perhaps a prose poem, perhaps not, it tallies up the
strengths of ordinary people -- or more specifically, the extraordinary
people we all have the potential to be. A tour-de-force. "Aerodynamics
for Girls" is something else altogether, a tale of obsessiveness, a
poignant character study, intensely chilling in its relentless detailing
of the day-to-day minutiae of a girl's home life. Quite simply superb.
So: 36 stories for $5. Always interesting, regularly scaling the heights.
(Incidentally, I don't think I've ever finished a review with those
Elsewhere in infinity plus: