Saturday, July 5, 2008

Temenos/Rusty Barnes/Sequoia Nagamatsu/Flash Fiction Review

Nominating Editor: Marc Macdonald

The site was put together by Editor-in-Chief Mike Shafer. Temenos provides links to artwork as well as fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

This story was picked for our magazine because of the sharp language and clever idea. The images evoked were powerful and interesting, and there was very little cliched or boring language. The overall sarcasm of the piece also made it humorous and enjoyable to me and the rest of the editorial staff.

Overall, I look for stories that are creative and fresh, stories that take an old idea and give it a new spin or new life or begin with a new idea in the first place. The language is important to me, but I still look for some semblance of plot (at least something has to happen; a collection of images is not a story in my opinion). I am also really attached to flash fiction.

Nominated Flash Fiction: "The First Time He Met a Communist" - Rusty Barnes

Review: by Sequoia Nagamatsu

The title of this short piece would certainly pique the interest of any leftist heart or those on the other side of the political spectrum that hope to find something to get angry about. The story begins around “State street” at a protest but we aren’t given any details as to city or country. At first, a reader might think that we are in South America as the protest concerns “the plight of Corzabia, a small anarchist collective ranch located within Patagonian Argentina,” however, our protagonist, Corsley, quickly points out that he has never been to Argentina, his mother’s native country. Corsley is an apathetic nut seller and as to what kind of nuts and if they are organic or not (we are at a protest after all), we never find out. The story focuses over his observations of Tracey, who is introduced as a communist at the protest, wearing “calf-high boots and tight paisley shorts and a wife beater.” As strange or atrocious as her attire may sound, Tracey is seen as a kind of exotic, bohemian femme fatale in the eyes of Corsley, who lives in a world so far removed from the object of his fantastical desires.

As the story continues, we take a joy ride through Corsley’s day dreams full of milking llamas and riding tiny horses in Patagonia with his idealized Tracey. When Tracey finally speaks to Corsley in reality, “God, it’s so hot. I wish we could protest somewhere, you know, cool?,” the reader is pulled out of Corsley’s head for a moment and presented with some very revealing gems that likely evade our narrator. Tracey’s one line in the story and the fact that she pays for a bottle of water with a fifty dollar bill give the reader a sense of her true character which is most likely not anything resembling anarchists of the Spanish Civil War, Che Guevara or even the student anarchists of late 1960’s France as Corsley pictures her. Instead, Tracey is likely an archetype for the modern (often bourgeois) anarchist that is often far removed from the struggles that are being fought for.

Corsely brings the reader back to his world with his ruminations on anarchist pubic hair or lack thereof and the brutal fact that he will never know for certain. When he reaches into his pockets for Tracey’s change, he discovers that his money is gone. Whether Corsley has simply misplaced his roll of bills or if he has been the victim of a nut-stand heist, we aren’t really sure and probably don’t care. Corsely, enraptured with Tracey as he is, doesn’t seem to worried about it either. Tracey takes off with her free bottle of water and the reader is left with Corsley gazing at her in the distance, wondering, “what could you say to someone so committed, so anarchistic, so damned attractive?” and the reader perhaps has an answer for our simple minded, wide-eyed protagonist – nothing at all.

Reviewer's Bio:

Sequoia Nagamatsu is a fiction writer, playwright, event organizer, artist and activist. Over the past years he has been involved in the San Francisco International Arts Festival, several Fringe Theatre and performance festivals in the United States and has written and directed two plays. He is a former national campaign manager for an arm of the Sierra Club, where he helped coordinate several national protests and also produced the multi-state Green Planet environmental festival. His poetry has appeared in the Grinnell Review and he has fiction forthcoming in Underground Voices. He is also part of a team of international writers, One World, that has put together an anthology of short stories commenting on the third world and indigenous communities. Originally from the San
Francisco Bay Area and educated in Iowa, he currently resides in Niigata City, Japan with his two guinea pigs.

Thanks for visiting Five Star Literary Stories and reading about this flash fiction.

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