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Short Stories


“Literary Fiction”?

Why the question mark? Several reasons: one, the idea of something being “literary” to me, implies on the level of the classics, or at least very close. Given that definition, I think it’s pretty nervy for any writer to call his or her own work “literary.”

Two, I really resent the fact that most written work is destined to be compartmentalized – science fiction, mystery, humor, etc. – while anything with some angst seems to qualify as “literary” fiction and gets a free pass, simply because THERE’S NO OTHER CATEGORY FOR IT!

To be clear, I don’t think it’s a good thing to classify stories so rigidly. I’m not advocating that literary fiction be subdivided into categories like “dysfunctional mother drama” and “dysfunctional father drama,” among other possibilities.  But I do feel it’s unfair that literary fiction gets to be so broad and all-encompassing, while everything else has to work within the system.

To quote Theodore Sturgeon on the subject: "The vast majority of fiction is written to markets and to this damnable business we have nowadays of categorizing everything."

Which leads to the third reason for the question mark after “Literary Fiction”: I think it’s insulting to “genre” writers that the ultimate legitimacy seems to be when you are elevated from the muck to become a “literary” author, rather than a genre writer.  In literary fiction, the most fantastic plot elements will never be dubbed “fantasy,” no matter how familiar they may seem to genre readers. Elements of mystery in literary fiction are rarely just “mystery,” they’re homages (don’t you pronounce that H now!) to mystery. And thus, literary fiction gets classified as “high art” while everything else is “low art.”

Sturgeon also said, "90% of everything is garbage.” And yes, that includes literary fiction.

(This % may be higher for blogs and Twitters.  Incidentally, doesn’t the word “blog” create a rather gross image of someone puking out words not fit for human consumption? And it bothers me immensely that one of the best put-downs ever – “You twit” – would now be interpreted as a question (“You Twit?”) If you indulge in blogging or Twittering, don’t worry, I’m just registering my disapproval of you. Just kidding. Or not.)

(As you can tell, I don’t fear the quotation mark. Nor do I fear the “air quote,” the conversational equivalent of a thermonuclear weapon. My fingers are ready, baby. I’ll drop it on ya like it’s hot. Nuclear hot. And radioactive.)

(Have you noticed that this website has taken on the chest-thumping braggadocio of a rap anthem?)

(And no, I don’t fear parentheses either.)

Without further ado, here are selections from the 10% non-garbage, “literary” fiction archives of Peter Dabbene:

  1. Metamorphosized
  2. The Man Who Cried “Death!”
  3. Flight

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Fictional History

We’ve all read historical fiction… some of it’s good, some of it’s bad. Sometimes, there’s nothing funnier that watching as an author crams every famous person from a given era into their story, as the author’s hero or heroine meets presidents, movie stars, athletes, criminals, all without so much as a wink and a nod that maybe this is a little TOO fictional?

My approach is “Fictional History” – historical content, heavily fictionalized. Hope you like it.

  1. Formosus, Fermenting
  2. The Adventures of Mikhail Mouse
  3. The Gunpowder Plotz (Word Riot

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Real Life Adventures

Inspired by facts surrounding the accounts of determined to be true stories.

  1. Suburban Complaint # 673: The Leaf Pickup
  2. The Incredible Grāpple (www.grapplefruits.com)
  3. The Riddle-Language of the Goddess IKEA
  4. “NEW!” Suburban Complaint # 1076 – SQUIRRELS!

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“Scientifical Fiction”

Sure, I try to keep things grounded in science where possible. But sometimes “scientifical” is so much more fun…

  1. SpamFram’s Maneuver
  2. Consumption Blues
  3. Inferno/Paradiso

A pledge to my readers: I will make every attempt to avoid creating alien-sounding names via the indiscriminate use of apostrophes. The same goes with excessive consonant use. D’C’Linn’a,  anyone? Or how about Zggphfffern?

Check out The Worst Science Fiction of All Time at  http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=7

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Horror/Suspense

Horror is a strong word, and I’m pretty sure no writer really wants to read that his work is horrific. I think suspenseful might be more what we’re looking for in a description here. Call it what you will, hopefully it quickens the pulse and shortens the breath. 

  1. Earth (Part One of the Elements of Fear)
  2. Gettysburg
  3. Taxi

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