Tuesday, 6 May 2014

#VSS – A Twitter Anthology of Very Short Stories, Volume 1, reviewed by Mari Biella

Since taking part in the Twitter Fiction Festival earlier this year, I’ve been getting into this Twitterature/Twiction thing with a vengeance. So naturally I was only too happy to get my hands on this anthology of Twitter stories, or #VSS (that’s “Very Short Stories”, in case you’re wondering). It’s free, after all. You can’t say fairer than that.

Twitter fiction may not be able to do everything that longer fiction can, but I think it’s a worthy literary form, albeit one of very recent provenance. After all, when you’re so limited in terms of how much you can actually write, you’re forced to think outside the box and be creative in entirely new ways. (A comparison might be with the Oulipo movement, whereby writers have forced themselves to write and create under some very severe restraints.) Such restrictions, far from hindering inventiveness, can actually spark it, as many of the stories in this anthology demonstrate.

If anyone out there has any doubts about how much of a story can be told in 140 characters, I can’t do much better than give you some shining examples from this anthology. Take these small evocations of loss and loneliness, from Charlie Close (@CharlieClose) and Small Stories (@smallstories):

The bookshelves were empty. She had been the reader, not him.

Rain drips from trees. Thunder in the distance. A cuckoo calls. I see you sitting on the bench but you are not there.

Mo Ali’s (@mo_ali) VSS takes cutting the fat to a whole new level, and might serve as a quick synopsis of many a Hollywood action movie:

Title, parkour, guns, the car chase, dead henchman, eye candy, backlit sex, vital clue, villain smirks, fistfight, explosion, End credits.

From Benjamin S. Wolf (@bswolf), we have this chillingly effective little tale:

The sandworm threatening to devour him was a hallucination, he knew – a product of reading science fiction. But the desert was not.

And from Seekersince1980 (@willgetback) we have this beautifully humorous story:

“Rock & Hard Place?”
“You crazy?”
“Devil & Deep Blue Sea?”
“What then? Fire & Frying Pan?”
Scylla & Charybdis were naming their twins.

And there’s my personal favourite, from Nick Name (@namenick):

#hashtagstory :: #liesgirlstell #marriage #liesboystell #divorce

And these are just a few highlights. There are many, many more, all of them worth reading. So why not pick up a copy? It’s free, as well as being the kind of thing you can read in your lunch hour. What more can you ask for?

Download a free copy here