Loopholes (Susan McCreery, Spineless Wonders)
Shakespeare once said that ‘brevity is the soul of wit’; the genre of microfiction takes this advice to heart. To succeed, microfiction must combine efficiency of text with immediacy of imagery and neat narrative twists, all in a space small enough for a single reading. It’s an artform that Susan McCreery shows a masterly command of in her new collection of microfictions, Loopholes. A loophole can offer a quick escape from a sticky situation or reveal a missing link in a network that allows us to circumvent or avoid consequences. McCreery’s stories often capture such moments of ambiguity or omission within relationships, pinpointing the moments of disintegration or collapse. In ‘Moth Holes’, a long-forgotten incident reveals itself to be the source of enduring resentment, while in ‘Burden’, a husband’s confession about his violent past calamitously changes the direction of a relationship. But they’re not all dark, and McCreery often writes best when she veers into absurd territory. In ‘Monoculus’, a glass eye reveals too much depth for a fed-up spouse who prefers her husband empty-eyed; and in ‘Mother’s Day’, the decision of whether to interpret ‘flower’ as a noun or a verb preoccupies a highly strung daughter. Loopholes is an intriguing collection that seems custom-built for reading on the go.
Hilary Simmons is a former assistant editor at Books+Publishing and a freelance writer, copywriter and editor