Fog Gorgeous Stag
by Sean Lovelace
f the word 'love' was part of my name, I'd probably be a different person. When I first came to Britain I thought, 'they have the strangest potato chip flavors.' They do not yet have Fog Gorgeous Stag
Lovelace is the internet and independent literature's biggest proponent of flash fiction (that and nachos), so it's no surprise that Fog Gorgeous Stag
is a collection of flash in Lovelace's inimitable style, incorporating word play and association, alliteration, assonance and rhythmic flow, all tightly wrapped around brightly moving imagery. This is the best flash fiction, small and rich like a jewelry box full of diamonds, bigger on the inside, like Doctor Who's TARDIS, intricate and complex like Escher art.
Publishing Genius books are so often so lovely. The cover of Fog Gorgeous Stag
seems like a new or an old painting, like a universe, like a big baby chicken, like fluttering hearts, like the sun. This cover is the perfect metaphor for Lovelace's writing, which is vast and touchingly inexplicable, both familiar and aloof, sprawling and contained.
Sentence to sentence, each Stag sentence is a bright gorgeous star
, there is something always breathless and anxious about the pace, something pleading. I was raised Catholic so maybe I am easily given to anxiety and prayer:
—Prayer of viscosity. (Why must things slow as they accumulate?)
—of lost convoys lumbering in the night.
—of my arms in a basket, my bleeding shins, and two eyeballs rolling about like brothers in brand new clothes: this is my body.
[listen: we are basically produce, a bag of produce—open us to sweet air and we will soon melt
[listen: the word is hot
Fog Gorgeous Stag
feels less overtly emo than Lovelace's previous chapbook, How Some People Like Their Eggs
, and maybe that's intentional, Stag
having a more mechanical or technological bent, not so much in style as in ambience.
Sentence to sentence, each Stag
sentence is a bright gorgeous star, but after reading a cluster of stars, when I stand back, the constellation is a blur, a fog. Sometimes I lose myself, sometimes I get lost in it. It feels disorienting and exciting, it feels like discovery.
Parts of the preceding might make Fog Gorgeous Stag
sound inaccessible or high-minded: it is not. It is tempered with many unexpected smiles, jokes with form, like the words themselves are laughing and that's infectious and charming:
a tire stick on a goat i have seen goats do worse things we own goats so i can answer this one easy a goat always to go up higher goat always to stand on cars and hey bails the well and one we found on the roof it clumb up the truck bed the cab jump the house roof we could not get goat down so grandpa shot it rifle down we cooked it hole in the ground like mexicans do that was first time i seen my grandpa fall he fell yes no he fall yes after shot the goat fell to his knees it scared me OK
when I stand back, the constellation is a blur, a fog
Some of Lovelace’s flashes are made of a chunky paragraph followed by a smaller chunk of words indented or italicized. Then there are sentences in all uppercase, then a list, then carriage-returned lines like poetry. But there seems no right or wrong way to go about a page on the page itself. In Fog Gorgeous Stag
the text is just there, wiggling its bum seductively, saying, 'read me like you want, get from me what only you know how.'