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Long Story Short: International Flash Fiction

January 2010

This month we cut to the chase with the telescoped narratives known as flash fiction. Here flash translates to both speed and illumination, as writers focus on the telling moment. The form’s popularity in Latin America is represented with work from Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, complemented by snapshots from around the world. Fantastic or realistic, grounded or airborne, these short takes confirm that brevity is the soul of wit. Capture the moment with Yoav Avni, Jose Agualusa, Andrej Blatnik, Pena Cabreira, Horia Gârbea, Quim Monzó, Sergi Pàmies, Alberto Ruy Sánchez, and Ana Maria Shua.

Trumpet Lessons
By Yoav Avni
Now he’s cold and he doesn’t believe it and he’s crying.
Translated from Hebrew by Margalit Rodgers
Thirty Lines
By Quim Monzó
The writer begins typing cautiously. He has to write a short story.
Translated from Catalan by Lisa M. Dillman
The Fork
By Quim Monzó
And then, while they’re still standing, taking off their jackets, one of the women accidentally knocks a fork—her own—with her sleeve, causing it to fall to the ground in silence
Translated from Catalan by Lisa M. Dillman
Father’s Return from War. Topics
By Horia Gârbea
Father went to war. Then he died in the war. When our neighbors found out the news, they looked at us, Mother and me, with pity.
Translated from Romanian by Mihaela Mudure
If Nothing Else Helps, Read Clarice
By José Eduardo Agualusa
I’m afraid of turning on the TV and, like someone going into the Underground at rush hour, of having my intelligence stepped on, whether out of carelessness or malice.
Translated from Portuguese by Stefan Tobler
By Sergi Pàmies
I wake up with an overwhelming urge to cry, but, since today’s going to be a busy day, I decide to cry later.
Translated from Catalan by Lisa M. Dillman
By Ana María Shua
Normal people fantasize a lot about our work, which is really pretty routine and not at all like what you see in the movies.
Translated from Spanish by Steven J. Stewart
Birthday Party
By Ana María Shua
“Silvia wants to show us all a magic trick,” said Mr. Rabbit. “She’s going to make someone disappear!”
Translated from Spanish by Steven J. Stewart
From “You Do Understand?”
By Andrej Blatnik
I lay there with my eyes closed, waiting for my husband to vacate his half of the bed. To go to work, of course.
Translated from Slovene by Tamara M. Soban
The Platform
By Pena Cabreira
As day dawned in the small town, old Ruschel was already at work assembling the platform, with the care of someone preparing a gallows.
Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers
Poetics of Wonder: Things They Say about Mogador
By Alberto Ruy-Sánchez
They say that according to the calculations of the most ancient African astronomers, the sun slows down when it passes over Mogador, lingering there more than any other place on the planet.
Translated from Spanish by Rhonda Dahl Buchanan