I’ve been fascinated recently by what I think of as authentic stories: writing that—while fictional—uses everyday forms to tell realistic, might-as-well-be-true stories. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional narrative. It’s familiar and effective. But still, there are true stories everywhere, hidden within the innocuous interactions of the 21st century for anyone who cares to pause and consider. While many people familiar with Hemingway’s (apocryphal) famous six-word story (“For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn”) note its brevity, I focus on its form: the personal ad.
I’ve been calling these types of stories “Craigslist Fiction.” A story that uses an authentic form (personal ad, email, etc.) should 1) be read convincingly as an actual example of that medium (i.e. an actual Craigslist ad) and 2) must still relate a story. Like “hint fiction,” some of the details are merely hinted at (i.e. omitted), but it’s my view that Hemingway (or the person who probably wrote these long before him) was on to something. Because how often do you read something on a site like Craigslist and think: what kind of person would write that?
My first published very short piece of Craigslist Fiction, “Iranian Food,” appears in this month’s elimae. There are more on the way, soon to be available from where fine writing is read.