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Spineless Wonders

What is a short short story? More specifically, how short is it (or how long)? The most famous tiny example is attributed to Ernest Hemingway: ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’ Whether he wrote this or not, it represents the gold standard in suggesting much in little. Like poetry, microstories or flash fictions allow no formal wobbling as authors tread a perilous tightrope between banality and inspired ingenuity.

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Where We Are by Alison Flett & ecliptical by Hazel Smith

August 2022, no. 445

Hazel Smith’s ecliptical features an image of a Sieglinde Karl-Spence work of art, ‘Becoming’, a pair of ‘winged feet woven with allocasuarina needles’. It is a striking image, evocative of Mercury, with one foot resting on the other, as if the right foot’s instep is itchy. The idea of ‘itchy feet’ is something that ties ecliptical to Alison Flett’s Where We Are. Flett and Smith are both migrants to Australia; their poetry is sensitive to its site of writing, and to international and interpersonal connections.

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White Light pieces together fragments of a colourful Australian suburbia: a bat-featured baby born to secretive neighbours; a young girl tipping over a bulldozer while playing on dormant construction equipment; and gold bullion appearing outside a rundown rooming house. The characters, like the book’s kaleidoscopic cover, are splintered. O’Flynn often creates original plotlines to emphasise this.

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