28. October 2010 · Comments Off on You Do Understand by Andrej Blatnik · Categories: Short Short Stories, Slovenian Literature · Tags: , ,

The short short. I’ve come to love that form. It takes a talented writer to cram a novel’s journey into a mere page or two. Slovenian writer Andrej Blatnik seems to have the knack for this concentrated form of art. You Do Understand is 112 pages of short shorts that, if you’ve not tried them before, are sure to make you a fan.

As a grouping, Blatnik’s stories have a strong undercurrent of relationships – what makes them tick, what breaks them, what makes them make us lonely within them. One thing’s for sure, you’ll enjoy pausing between each to reflect, laugh, cringe, remember when you did something horribly similar.

Translated by Tamara M. Soban, the stories flow so well in English you’ll forget that’s not their first language. You Do Understand is part of the new Slovenian Literature series from Dalkey Archive Press, a publishing house dedicated to bringing some amazing works to American readers. Blatnik’s collection of short shorts is a prime example of why such an endeavor is worthwhile.

You may remember when not too long ago I reviewed a book of short short stories published by Rose Metal Press. I discovered I loved the short short story form, and thankfully that book wasn’t the only of this sort Rose Metal chose to publish. Their latest, In the Land of the Free, written by Geoffrey Forsyth, is another fascinating example of why I feel short shorts should get more exposure. Forsyth’s stories, most lasting no more than three or four pages, are packed with raw human emotion. From humor to ache, love to death, these stories are concentrated forms of literature that bear reading over and over.

Forsyth’s stories are most original; I’m sure it’s a large part of the reason he won the Rose Metal Press Second Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest. His stories feature young people – a baby born in the kitchen, a man who in his youth purchases a wall out of his naivete, a young man who wakes to find his dead relatives in his living room. These addictive little bits will most certainly get you hooked on short shorts.

If you’ve not read a short short story before, I highly recommend you try it. We all need something artistic and deep in our lives, and let’s face it – most people skip it completely, never realizing it’s missing. But for us readerly types, it’s a necessity that we recognize. Think of short shorts as multivitamins for the brain and the soul. Or a pick-me-up more handy than a cup of coffee, healthier than a cigarette break. If you decide to start with In the Land of the Free, you’ll have yourself a most creatively published work as well. This chapbook has an old-style letterpress cover which was produced at the Museum of Printing in Andover, Massachusetts–the perfect format for In the Land of the Free. I ask you, when was the last time you heard of a mainstream press take such care with their book printing? Another reason to love the Indie presses.

Want to win your own copy of In the Land of the Free? Here’s your chance.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me what interests you about reading short short stories.  Have you read them before?  Why would you like to try? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post. Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Thursday, September 18, 2008, to enter.

What holds people back from reading these days? I hear it all the time: “I love books, but I’m too busy” or, “I used to read, but now with the kids I can’t get much further than the first page.” Whenever I review and give away a book of short stories, I see many similar comments from readers who love shorts because they’re able to get something artistic back into their lives in the small amount of time they’re able to eke out. If you hang out on carp(e) libris reviews, chances are you wish as I do that you had hours of every day to devote to artistic pursuits, whether it be reading or slapping paint on a canvas. But if all you’ve got is a minute or two, all is not lost to you.

A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women is just what the muse doctor ordered. These stories are truly short short; all under 1,000 words each, some no more than a paragraph or two, and each one brilliantly written by one of four highly creative women. This book is divided into four sections or “chapbooks” highlighting the work of one of the writers: Amy L. Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish, and Claudia Smith. All four were nominated for Rose Metal Press’s first annual short short chapbook contest, Claudia Smith being the winner.

If you like the unusual, if you like to see the mostly unspoken fragments of life brought forth in an uneasy yet entertaining manner, if the art part of your mind is starving for attention, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness will bring you brain food in small but fulfilling pieces. These are not wishy-washy shorts, oh no! They cover all the uncomfortable ramblings, the hidden and forbidden fragments that have rammed through most of our lives, either wanted or unwanted but there nonetheless. As a whole, this book pulls us together into a secret sisterhood of “I’ve been there and darned if I didn’t like it either.” If I had to pick one word that describes all these stories, it would be “powerful.” I was fascinated and inspired by how much all four authors were able to fit into each story, as I am sure you will be too.

Now that you’re properly aching for this book, I’ve got one extra copy of A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness to give away. Enter to win by midnight EST, June 6, 2008.

1.) Leave a comment telling me something about the level of art you’re able to fit into your day, if any. Are you able to read a lot? Do you search for ways to feed your creative brain? (Something more than “I want this book” is kindly suggested.) Here’s your shot at creativity for today; if the randomly chosen winner doesn’t reply to my email telling them they’ve won, I often choose the #2 winner based on their comment.

2.) or Subscribers are automatically entered into this and all future giveaways. Just enter your email address in the little white box on the upper part of the right hand column. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail.)

3.) or Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win!