Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Harry Gold


I have been writing short fiction of varying lengths for nearly four decades. At a certain point in time I learned that short shorts fall into a category called Flash Fiction, generally brief in nature, between 250 and 1000 words.

The following is a piece of flash fiction written in a rather unconventional manner. All of the sentences from this story have been borrowed from other works of fiction by other authors. It was sort of a word game. For continuity sake I inserted a sentence fragment here and there and used the name Harry Gold in all the places where needed. I think it interesting how a sentence, placed in a new context connotes new meanings through the reconfigured relationship. And now, may I present...

Harry Gold

The rule of "nothing unessential" is the first condition of great art. --Andre Gide

After dinner Harry Gold reads us the last two chapters of his La Nuit. The next to last especially seems excellent to us, and Gold reads it very well. Being rich is an occupation in itself, particularly for people who arrive at it via parachute in middle life.

We go out for a walk -- William Williams, Gold and myself. Never has it seemed such a long way to the top of this hill. The road with its tossing broken stones stretches on forever into the distance like a life of agony. It is hot as a furnace on the street and we sweat profusely.

I bring up the question of ownership. "Who owns language? Can a man own words? Sentences? The turn of a phrase?"

Gold's face becomes agitated, defiant. "It's mine now. No matter what they say, it's mine."

It occurs to me that Williams doesn't like this reply, but there are no others to turn to and we are forced to accept it. Gold feels guilty because his work is heavy with borrowing. Ideas, phrases, sentences, even whole paragraphs have been shamelessly appropriated, pilfered without attribution, plagiarized.

Harry adds, in a low voice, "The will of man is unconquerable. Even God cannot conquer it."

I can not bear to see him like this. To myself I think, Why do you do these things? In human affairs every solution only serves to sharpen the problem, to show us more clearly what we are up against. I consider how sages of the future will describe this historic day.

* * * *

For additional "short shorts" visit:
For a collection of more serious fiction:

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