Short stories archive



“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over” by Earnest Hemingway

Okay I hit a bit of a block with this word. There are many different types of Architecture. In fact, one of my favourite places in college was Saint Mary’s Church. Not the inside but the outside. It was the gargoyles you see, those chunks of stone carved as waterspouts were beautiful in their ugliness. The outside of the church had been discoloured. Not sure why but I think this was more to do with fungus or some type of lichen that clung to the sandstone. Still it resembled smoke, a discolouration caused by burning. I used to sit eating my lunch and see pictures in that stain. Some make shapes and animal out of clouds. I used those sooty marks and it wasn’t fluffy rabbits and kisses I saw, but monsters and gremlins. I would watch as creatures with gnarled and twisted hands would reach to the sky, never quiet getting there but always trying. For me that church was prose with so many tales to tell that I spent over a year eating lunch on that bench, resenting when the rain fell and I had to seek cover. Those tales were not interior decoration or any less than they were because they were stories, but at the same time without those stories they were just stains on the wall, ugly and black. But Hemingway suggests that Baroque is dead.

Baroque is a type of art that flourished in Europe during the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth century. Its huge ornate style and extravagance is perhaps why it is only seen by the highest echelon of society, it is a thing of the past. Perhaps writing with flourish and extended prose brings this style to life, except I can’t think of a modern prose that does this. Today we embrace the shorter more brisk novel. Michael Levin recently wrote in the Huffington Post that books are getting smaller. I have noticed this. Recently I bought the Booker nominated novel “The Lighthouse” by Alison Moore. Now I wasn’t expecting a huge piece of work but the slim volume that arrived was tiny. I measured with a ruler and it was only just over a centimetre in-depth. The content may not have been what I would have read normally, I’m partial to a lot of action, but it did what the story suggested, it outlined the rather sad life of Futh and his future. I won’t say anymore unless others want to read it but it is a good read as it shows a different way of writing. Just don’t expect a big volume. I have to agree with Hemingway that the constant ornamentation of prose is dead but:

The church sits in a pool of dappled light, a tree moves in the breeze and briefly a string of shadows canter across the scarred sandstone. They are stained in black, a mould that over time has crept to surround the building bringing strange stains of wild creatures and goblins. Atop the battlements the gargoyles sit mouths agape to send water to the ground. Ever vigilant they watch and guard the monstrous building. A child sits across from it, mouth as wide as the watchmen, as the fast shadows suddenly make a gremlin with twisted hands reach toward her with elongated fingers.

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