Friday, June 20, 2008

Lamination Colony/Ron Burch/Jai Clare/Flash Fiction Review

Nominating Editor: Blake Butler

Lamination Colony
has been online publishing strange or surreal texts since 2003. With each issue we try to push new forms, new things, new thinking. We like to think we often publish things no one else would mention. We are less interested in being a literary journal and more a grounds for the incohesive or bizarre, with more emphasis placed on aura or tone than on character development or revelation. We feature work from everything from spambots to people's mothers to found writing to prose poem cycle to famous authors to bitmap drawings. Nothing is profane.

My main two criteria when selecting work are these: (1) I can read it all the way through without boredom. I want to be turned on by a piece from beginning to end. I of course allow levity to see if something might develop from abstruse strands, but if I go on too long in the feeling of something droning I often close the submission without finishing. I don't think this is wrong. Reading on the web, you have to have the electric. You need boom. (2) The work makes me laugh, shudder, go 'hmmm' and/or feels new. I like new things. I like strange forms. If something feels done or old, it's hard for me to pay attention. That said, there is a clear line I think when someone is trying to push for pushing sake. Though even then sometimes that feels good. Ron's story "UNFINISHED" I think is perhaps the perfect mix of peculiar, texture and just good, if slanted, storytelling.

Nominated Flash Fiction: "UNFINISHED" - Ron Burch

Review: by Jai Clare

Ron Burch's "UNFINISHED" in Lamination Colony, is a strong quirky story. In what reminds me of Carvesque/Dubus prose Burch outlines a man who has trouble sleeping, whose body clock keep waking him up at strange times and is responsible, it is implied for the breakup of his marriage. We are very much in Dubus territory here, in sparse but not completely minimalist prose. Everything is enigmatic and unexplained – which I like a lot. It's a story that stands up by itself with very little extraneous nonsense to hold it up. Much like the man or the house he thinks he is building in his dream, or not! It's a story about nameless family members and owners of lots next to commercial spaces. Burch wants us to figure the connections for ourselves and so it is hard not to make that jump between his body waking up at strange times with the periods of his life that he may or may not be building a house, or buying another house. This is a man who dreams and his dreams, by the juxtaposition Burch employs, is where he lives his life as is life itself is unfinished. The ending is poignant and emphasizes the unfinished aspect of his life – a house seems to symbolize progress, achievement – the American dream of the good life and here he is in "his small one bedroom apartment, only 600 square feet, crammed with furniture from a house four times the size but furniture he couldn't bear to part with." He's getting older yet his life is not moving forward, in fact he is stuck with the past. Everything is unfinished – his sleep, his dreams, his life moving forward. We are not given an explanation for this - just a glimpse into his existence and the struggle that is really living. The prose is effortless, images and juxtapositions quirky. I look forward to reading longer work by this writer.

Reviewer's Bio:

Jai Clare is the author of fiction collection The Cusp of Something, published by Elastic Press. She lives in London. She maintains a website at Some comments about her fiction: "Jai Clare is a courageously inventive writer whose short pieces are clever, ambitious, delightful and always surprising." – Jim Crace, author of The Pesthouse.

"Jai Clare has understood the secret of the short story: lyricism, brevity, consequentiality. She brings to her writing an easy and deep-reaching grasp of character and a lovely open eroticism. She is a serious writer whom we are lucky to have." – Sebastian Barker Editor of The London Magazine.

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

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