There are pages that stay with us and change the way we read everything else. This is what happened with Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium.
In this series of lectures Calvino puts together some values and qualities of literature to project into the next millennium, never doubting the potential of literature in making it through the ages.
My confidence in the future of literature consists in the knowledge that there are things that only literature can give us, by means specific to it.
These are the memos, as we can look for and challenge them everyday in reading and writing.
Italo Calvino was invited to give a series of Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University in 1984. He worked hard on a scheme for his lectures, deciding for six main subjects, and completing, before his premature departure, five of them. Although Calvino never had the chance to deliver his lectures, Harvard University translated and published what was ready, making them available to generations of readers, critics and writers.
Does fiction start from word one? Where is the fiction in a Flash Fiction piece?
Flash Fiction is very much a by-product of our times, as much as fiction is about what it is to be a human being-quoting D F Wallace. Therefore, as contemporary human beings flash fiction represents one form of evolution of fiction writing in a high-speed, over crowded, information-saturated, present.
Flash fiction is no poetry, no aphorism and no mere sentence. A six-words sentence can be a piece of flash fiction, as much as much as a 100,000 words volume can be a novel…provided that both contain fiction. The secret ingredients are imagination and creativity, which are indispensable to tell a story.
There is often some weariness of this form, a sense of limit represented by brevity and the perplexity around a piece that, by giving only very few strategic details about what happens, forces the readers to do for themselves. To put the pieces together and to stage them in the theatre of the readers’ minds, in all its complexity, it is indeed a great deal of work for a five minutes read.
Flash fiction is a very powerful pill of fiction: you swallow it on the run while you do your thing and slowly it releases its properties. Flash fiction authors face a unique challenge in creating these undiluted pieces of fiction.
This reflection on the essence of flash fiction was inspired by a conversation with a keen reader and book industry professional with many questions regarding the relationship between brevity and fiction. Every fiction reader and/or writer is welcome to contribute.
All great storytellers have in common the freedom with which they move up and down the rungs of their experience as on a ladder. A ladder extending downward to the interior of the earth and disappearing into the clouds is the image for a collective experience to which even the deepest shock of every individual experience, death, constitutes no impediment or barrier.
Walter Benjamin from “The Storyteller” in Illuminations 1936
Last Thursday we decided it was about time to go live and let people know Breve is born. We had such a good response and we really want to thank each and every person that took some time to have a look and signed up to our new blog and Facebook page.
So, we are doing this. Breve is out on the hunt for the best new short stories and flash fiction. We really look forward to get to know all the new and emerging authors out there, that share the same passion for storytelling and are ready to take the plunge. This is the opportunity to be part of a new exciting project and it is the moment to be brave.
While making our first steps, while waiting for you to finish editing your stories, we do what we like the most: We Read and We Write.
These are the books inspiring Breve in these promising summer days: The Penguin Book of the Beach and The Penguin Book of the City, both edited by Robert Drewe. Both packed with some of the most brilliant international authors, giving us the thrills with their short stories over the themes of The City and The Beach.
If you are running out of steam or you think you deserve a treat for your hard work, these are the books you are looking for!
Breve New Stories is a new literary magazine based in London.
Dedicated to original short stories, Breve New Stories aims to give emerging authors of literary short fiction the opportunity for their work to be published, distributed and – most importantly, read.
Breve New Stories believes in the short story as a single, complete artwork. By publishing a short story and a flash fiction piece in each issue, Breve New Stories gives each author the opportunity to be read and known by a growing public. Published authors will gain visibility both through the magazine and by writing on our blog about their passion for literature, their advice to aspiring writers and their future projects.
Breve New Stories will be published in print in the form of a fresh, handy pamphlet and distributed in bookshops and through our blog.
All readers and aspiring authors are welcome to explore Breve New Storiesabout and submission pages, we look forward to reading your stories.