Sunday, 24 July 2011

In Defence Of Short Stories #11: Dan Holloway

Today's guest blog purports to come from one 'Dan Holloway', although given the sheer scale of literary activity attributed to Dan, I suspect that name is just an alias for a group of say ten or twelve highly talented people working anonymously. How else to explain the following?

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  • Dan Holloway wrote one of the best self-published novels I've read: Songs From The Other Side of The Wall (UK | US)
  • More pertinently to this guest blog spot, Dan wrote the short stories and poems in (life) razorblades included (UK | US)
  • He also finds time to be involved in Eight Cuts, editing such works as Penny Goring's The Zoom Zoom (UK | US)
  • And he also wrote The Company of  Fellows, voted in a Blackwells poll their favourite Oxford novel (UK | US). Yes, best ever.
  • And he finds time to read his short stories aloud at such events as Brighton Fringe's Grit Lit, Covent Garden Poetry Cafe's Literature Lounge and Literary Death Match. See here for an example.
  • And more! Dan is publishing a series of episodes of his Black Heart High, the first part of which is behind these here links: UK | US

Dan HollowayI mean c'mon, it's hardly believable that this is all the work of one person, particularly when you take into account the fact 'Dan' has also apparently read every good book ever, and has never once failed to post on an internet forum or message board when the words 'Murakami', 'Oxford comma', or 'self-publishing' have been mentioned. And he is unfailingly enthusiastic, friendly, and genuine with what he posts.

So no, I don't believe in 'Dan Holloway', and was going to reject his In Defence of Short Stories out of hand... but then I read it. Wow. It's called Flash. And you should all read it too.

Take it away, 'Dan'...


I've been reading James’ defences of short stories for some time now, and I’ve sat at my desk thinking about putting something together, wondering what I could say. It should be easy. I write short stories. Lots of them. And not just short stories but flash fiction too.

That’s it, I thought, before I asked James if I could put something together. Flash fiction. After all, I haven’t seen too many people defend it. It’s still looked upon as a bit of a novelty, a parvenu, not at all the place where an author would have the space to attribute three whole adjectival clauses to a single noun.

The problem is I’ve never really been an apologist. Do. That’s my motto. Don’t think it, live it. And live it again, and keep on living. Just like Katelan said that night when we sat around in button back chairs telling the audience about Lilith, and embracing life so close you choke on it, and her friend Holly, who died in her early twenties but lived more than you or I ever will.


Of course.

It was mid morning. Fuck knows what time o’clock in New York but I called her anyway.

Hey you, she said with all the energy I remembered, and I didn’t feel so bad.


So I’m doing this piece about flash fiction.


Yeah, about how cool it is. No, not just that. A defence of it.

A defence of it? she said and I could hear the frown lines. What’s to defend?

Exactly, I said, it seems so obvious.

So obvious you can’t think how to put it, she said, and I just laughed, and there we were laughing down the phone together at how ridiculous it was.

So how come you’re up? I asked.

She told me she’d been on a shoot and I asked her what they’d been shooting and she said she’d spent all day riding the IRT sharing homemade cupcakes with strangers while a friend filmed the thing on his phone and I said that sounded pretty cool and she said yeah it was cool, and then she spent an hour telling me about this guy who was going to propose to his partner only he wasn’t sure and he and Katelan talked it over for so many stops as they ate and her friend filmed and they ate some more and talked some more that he missed his stop and his partner called him and he picked up his phone in the middle of a mouthful and Katelan heard her say fuck you, asshole and the guy laughed and ate more cupcakes and felt so free he rode another ten stops with her while her friend filmed.

I asked her what she was going to do with the shoot and she said her friend was just finishing the film as we spoke and was going to upload it the moment he was done. I asked her if she could send me a link and she said not to worry I was first on the guy’s list when it was ready so I said thanks and she said you still don’t know what to write, do you?

No, I said, and she laughed and I asked her why and she said I’d always been slow on the uptake but not to worry, when I got the point I was always the right one to follow it through. I shrugged and asked her what the piece was called so I could tell people about it. I heard another voice, not hers, a man’s voice and it said, I’m not the one who lived. I’m not the one who lived, I repeated and Katelan’s voice and the man’s voice were laughing at the end of the line and then they weren’t. They weren’t anything. I held the phone to my ear waiting for her to say yeah, or awesome, or goodbye or something but she didn’t, and the next noise was the ping of an incoming e-mail and I held the phone close and mouthed thank you down the line. Thank you, that’s exactly what I needed to say.


Dan Holloway said...

James, it's a privilege to be here - we are those million legendary monkeys with their typewriters, didn't you know :)

Heikki Hietala said...

Oh man... the inimitable Dan at his level best!

Dan Holloway said...

Thanks, Heikki. You're the absolute master of the form