This year, on June 16, a new anthology of flash fictions launched in Wellington. We celebrated Bloomsday with voices from Aotearoa channelling – who else? – James Joyce, but with the added twist of a simultaneous ode to Venice. The launch included readings by Fiona Kidman, Harry Ricketts, Apirana Taylor, Alison Glenny and Jordan Hamel.
About the book
This book bridges two anniversaries. Ulysses by James Joyce was published in 1922. Venice was founded in 421. The title Breach of All Size is Joyce’s pun on Venice landmark Bridge of Sighs but could as easily describe his sprawling modernist classic, which clocks in at 265,222 words.
To celebrate both anniversaries, 36 Aotearoa writers were asked to write love stories set in Venice and inspired by words from Ulysses, but to steer the opposite course and keep them short. How short? 421 words, of course.
EDITED BY MICHELLE ELVY AND MARCO SONZOGNI
PUBLISHED BY THE CUBA PRESS
‘Life is too short to read a bad book’*
Michelle Elvy’s launch introduction, 16 June 2022
When Marco and Mary approached me about this idea for an anthology, there was no hesitation: I was at once enthralled. I shelfscurried and pagehurried, skimming Joyce for phrases that would make our pages pop. I grabbed the nearest scrap and jotted in my scribbledehobble way. Marco and Mary and I loved the idea – but who else would? Well, a merriment, it turns out. The Irish writers came to mind first: Fiona, Hester, Sile, Emer… And the ones who know Venice: Sophia, Apirana… But in order to pull this off, you can’t be just Irish, or have had your own love affair with the city of bridges; you gotta love the challenge of the small form.
The key thing was the playful nature of the brief – love stories, sure, some heartfelt and passionate and even sexy. But this is how love should be written, in my view: love overflowing – for a city, for an author whose work still keeps us asking questions and reaching for the dictionary. Love for words on the page, love for each other…
It’s a tattarrattat on my heart, to be sure. A ringroundabout of voices, lovewords liplapping loudly.
If you’re looking for a cure for psychic ailment or a plague of that special twentytwentytwoennui, look no further. You don’t need no yogibogeybox – just this wee book to tuck in your pocket and carry with you.
Happy Bloomsday and congratulations! And thank you, Marco, Mary and team, and to all the adventurous writers who said YES.
* from a conversation with S J Mannion, and an obvious title for this launch intro
Three authors sharing their work from the book
Hester Ulyart, That tickles me, I must say
Sudha Rao, Diamonds and ruby buttons
Jordan Hamel, Cuckoo Cuckoo Cuckoo
Diane Brown, Trish Gribben and Ian Wedde also read from Breach of All Size at the Festival of Flash.
Find the book at the publisher’s site The Cuba Press