By Lynette Washington
[bctt tweet=”The short story is a form that is vulnerable to fashion.” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]
Not in the way that a dab is; more like the way that a salsa is. A dab is a moment in time, a brief blink of the eye, and no sooner is it known, than it is uncool. And gone. A dab can be learnt and mastered as quickly as it can be done. It says one thing, and one thing alone: look at me.
The salsa, on the other hand, is a dance that takes time to master and appreciate. It’s been around the block and knows who it is: sexy and smooth, it tells stories of heartbreak and lust and sadness and pain. It is introspective but not shy. It asks something of you: pay attention to the detail and you will be rewarded.
Sure, almost anyone can dance a salsa, but when you are in the company of a master, you are drawn in, elevated and consumed by their movement, by the telling of their story. You feel the movements of their body as if they were the movements of your soul.
Salsa has always been in fashion somewhere, though not everywhere: there are those who love it and will defend it from now to eternity, even if it’s not making the news. And there are those who dabble – a holiday fling, an impulsive New Year’s resolution, a desire to live outside the confines of their world for a little while. And there are those who are yet to discover just what it can do, how it can move.
[bctt tweet=”Much like the short #story. It is a moment, but it is also a meditation. ” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]
It is a fling, but it is the lover you can never forget. It is a diamond, not a boulder. Those who love the short story will defend its honour passionately because it speaks to them like no other form: the brevity, the polish, the capacity to pierce the human condition like a heart on a skewer and hold it to the light. For just long enough. To leave you satiated, but longing. It may not be in the news, but is there anything quite like it?
Last year in Perth, the inaugural Australian Short Story Festival was held at the Centre for Stories. It was a glorious three days, at the end of which writers and readers alike parted with sweet sorrow: we had met our people, broken bread. The congeniality was unlike anything I‘ve experienced: we were there to share our love for the short form. We left as friends.
This November the Australian Short Story Festival moves to Adelaide. The program has just been launched, and it features the holders of the torch (Tony Birch, Carmel Bird, Susan Midalia, Peter Goldsworthy) and the vanguard. It celebrates the diverse and emerging. Young writers, queer writers, writers who didn’t always call Australia home. Roanna Gonsalves is, everyone says, a delight. Melanie Cheng is hot right now, and her appearance is sure to be a highlight. Lucy Durneen, the award-winning UK writer who is flying in for the festival, will share her dark and distinct take on the form. The much-loved Sean Williams will join the award-winning Lisa L. Hannett to talk genre. Adelaide’s short story darling, Rebekah Clarkson, will bring her customary and intoxicating blend of intellect and passion. Alex Skovron and Andy Kissane will discuss inspiration and that invigorating moment of inception. There will be panels, workshops, book launches. Three days packed with story.
If it’s anything like Perth, it will be a homecoming and awakening; a beautiful moment to meditate on. Nourishment for those of us who like to dance with this most perfect story form. Come, dance with us!
The Australian Short Story Festival will run from 3 November to 5 November at the UniSA City West Campus in Adelaide.