When I tell people about Hannah Stevens’ collection of 5 stories in The New Luciad and that those 5 stories are on 3 pages they don’t believe it is possible. Stevens’ ability to create characters that you care about and empathise with in around 100 words is incredible.
Like all great works of art, Stevens’ writing gives us enough to start, but also allows the reader to add their own interpretation. In Wasps a small boy is in a car waiting for his dad. Stevens does not actually tell the reader that the child is a boy… the ability that Stevens has to encourage her reader to conjure up images is fantastic. This is the story that has really stayed with me, Your back really hurts now. You don’t know what you should do. What happens next? Stevens has written something that tells us so much, but still leaves us hanging and all this is in 94 words!
Another story that stayed with me is Robin. Opening on peaceful, hot sunny day, I was instantly in the garden with the protagonist. Suddenly the mood of the story changed with the discovery of a robin’s “ropes of tiny, white intestines” and a “thud” of a spade…
Bread has us witnessing what are perhaps the last minutes of a man’s life. “The room flips” the world is literally turned upside down as he may be reaching his final breath. And, again, we never know.
All of the stories are distinctly separate but all with the recurring theme of something or someone leaving. There is death, there is violence, and there are moments of compassion. You will be left with the feeling that you know the protagonists well when in fact you know nothing at all and this makes it flash fiction at its very best.
About the reviewer
Laura Millward was born in Northampton and has lived in Leicester for 7 years. She is a big fan of art, books, tattoos and coffee. Lots of coffee.