Journal of Writing & Environment

Long Live Short Shorts – Web Rove

by Stefanie Brook Trout, Nonfiction Editor

While Iowa’s temperatures are still in the nineties, the weather will soon turn, and I’ll be obliged to pack away my sundresses, sandals and short-shorts in exchange for sweaters and stocking caps. I’ll be missing those short-shorts soon enough, so I reveled in their bold scantiness and donned the skimpy scraps to rove the web for the shortest of literary short-shorts that still satisfy as much as lengthier forms. Therefore, I now declare September “Short-Shorts in Short-Shorts Month,” and I encourage you to put on your shortest of shorts (you too, gentlemen) to fully enjoy the small stories and succinct essays I’ve culled for your brief reading pleasure.

Lotus” by Jared Salzano (from A Clean, Well-Lighted Place)

This bit of flash fiction won A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’s third annual summer contest, and my heart. The characters seek lotus blossoms to eat for their psychedelic powers—well, that’s an inference on my part, but it is definitely some kind of drug. This piece is so short that if I said anything else, I would give it all away.

A Day in the Grammar of Disease” by Sonya Huber (from Brevity)

Anyone who has had chronic pain of any kind knows how it can consume your life, invade your thoughts, dictate your actions. If you haven’t suffered in this way, Sonya Huber describes the experience expertly in this brief nonfiction essay: “(10:30) Today my husband and I talked about my calcified hip and aching hands, the awkwardness of a threesome with pain.” If you have experienced pain like this, derive hope from the way Huber makes beautiful art from suffering.

Planning an Atlantic Funeral” by Hugh Sheehy (from 3:AM)

I’ll be brief. In this lovely short-short, Hugh Sheehy waxes lyrical about promiscuous oceans, conspiring waters, and children reaching their first coast.

Obvi, We’re the Ladies” by Anabel Graff (from Newfound)

Okay, so this isn’t a short-short, but it’s about short-shorts—Lena Dunham’s short-shorts on Girls—and it gave me the title for the Web Rove you’re reading right now. In her review of Dunham’s HBO show, Anabel Graff argues, “all writers should wear short-shorts,” and I agree.

Want even shorter short-shorts? Check out Trapeze for great Twitter-based speculative fiction. (Warning: These itty-bitty stories are so short, you might want to strip down to your underwear to get into the spirit.)


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