My Mother and the Hungarians was my introduction to the ‘Flash Novella’ the first book of its kind that I had read. I was taken with it immediately, with the short ‘snapshots’ of stories that could be on its own, or sewn together with others to create a longer story. I liked the fluidy through time that you can create through these moments that are described in a beautiful way in shorter form.
My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions is somewhat of a childhood memoir, Frankie McMillan (through fiction) talks of her mother taking in Hungarian refugees after the war, a personal sense of misdirection (somewhat literally) and the experience of the Hungarians under Stalin.
The thing I like about Flash Fiction and this book is the depth of meaning that you can give with words to try and use a limited number of words to get across a greater story. Using a simile or a metaphor, or a particular phrasing you can add in a different cultural meaning to speak more through less words.
One of my favourite pieces is ‘Falling in love the abseiler repeats the same tricky descent, over and over’.
“Because her was an abseiler he was used to going back to what he knew and for that reason his first girlfriend was his only love.”
I also love the narrative interlude through the refugees about her loss of sense of direction after falling from a tree and having geography knocked out of her, and then getting lost or losing things ever since. It makes a good reflection on the displaced refugees, also with their sense of geography askew as they try to make their way in New Zealand life, so far from all they know.