“Enamored” isn’t a word I have reason to use often, but it’s the only word that properly explains how the Fall 2015 issue of NANO Fiction left me feeling. From the cover, a digital collage by Andrea Trninic, the perfect shade and gory subject matter for October, to the Sehr Flash: Fiction Becomes Music feature, I am completely enamored.
The issue opens with 22 pieces of flash fiction, ranging from tropics like the sound of ice shifting on Minnesotan lakes, to an end of the world bunker. Each piece is well-chosen by the editors and each word has been thoughtfully selected by their respective writers, creating a strong, cohesive issue. Every story leaves an impact, either with poetic language like “Bubbling shells still sleep under the sand,” the first sentence of the issue from Naoko Fujimoto’s “Laundry Girl,” to the subjects touched upon.
“Beth” by Colleen Maynard stuck with me for its vivid snapshot into a tiny piece of young childhood, reminding me of my own. A slight animosity between siblings is present, but so is the wonder over the most ordinary of things. A washcloth becomes a balloon and a parked car has the ability to become a dangerous playground.
Looking at childhood in a different, darker light is Robyn Carter in “Dolls.” A classmate is pregnant at thirteen and celebrating her quinceañera before her upcoming wedding to a grown man. Childhood and adulthood are compared side by side from the eyes of her peers. The title of “Most Stylish Eighth Grader” is at odds with “wife.” Real ovens are given as gifts instead of Easy Bake Ovens. A thirteen-year-old receives a Barbie toy for her birthday, and a baby. Not even at a full page, Carter manages to reel readers into her story and hold them at chilled attention until the end.
The second half of the issue is dedicated to the Sehr Flash: Fiction Becomes Music feature, a collaboration between two composers, Russell Podgorsek and Hermes Camacho, and six flash writers: Callie Collins, Kelly Luce, Michael McGriff, Vincent Scarpa, Jessica Richardson, and Matthew Salesses.
There are so many awesome things about this feature, the first of which is the sheet music accompanying each flash piece. I read this issue while away from any internet service or phone signal and was unable to listen to the recordings of the music until later, but the sheet music acts as another guide for imagination. Without listening, one can see that the staccato notes in the song “Goldfish In Coffee Pots Talking Cars” match the feeling Kelly Luce’s story “Luscious” conjures up. The arpeggios spattered across the page in “Colors Dreams Stone” match the frenzy of thoughts recorded in “Dear X” by Jessica Lee Richardson.
But readers who aren’t familiar with reading sheet music will also get something great out this feature, because all the recorded music, performed by the Cordova Quartet, is available to listen to on NANO Fiction’s website. Even better, the playlist also includes the authors reading their flash pieces so a listener can immediately hear the influences the writing had on the composers in a way that’s almost intimate.
In this issue of NANO Fiction, the editors have put together something more than a flash literary magazine. The music and words work together to create a whole experience. It’s the perfect journal for colder evenings upon us, allowing a reader to sit back, relax, listen, and, most importantly, feel.