[Augusto] Monterroso is perhaps most famous for his short story “The Dinosaur,” which is said to be literature’s shortest story. It reads in full:
When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.
In an 1996 interview with Ilan Stavans for the Massachusetts Review, Monterroso recalled some early reviews of “The Dinosaur”: “I still have the very first reviews of the book: critics hated it. Since that point on I began hearing complaints to the effect that it isn’t a short-story. My answer is: true, it isn’t a short story, it’s actually a novel.”
Brevity was, to say the least, an important concept for Monterroso. His essay “Fecundity” is included in The Oxford Book of Latin American Essays. It reads in full:
Today I feel well, like a Balzac; I am finishing this line.
—from Tom McCartan’s Crib notes on “What Bolaño Read”
Okay, the long-awaited next Numéro Cinq literary contest, The First Annual Numéro Cinq Novel-in-a-Box/Memoir-in-a-Box Contest. The rules are pretty simple this time. You have to write an entire (don’t cut corners) novel or a memoir (personal narrative) consisting of 9 (a mystic number) chapters and each chapter can be no more than 5 lines long. (By lines, I mean the number of lines that appear on the comment box on the blog.) Fewer lines if you can. Try to remember what a novel is like: at least a couple of characters or more (usually), a conflict, development through a series of dramatic actions, etc. Alternatively, try to remember what a memoir looks like: a first person narrator (and a couple of other people or more), a thematically continuous narrative line often based on a conflict and or theme, development through a series of dramatic moments or incidents, etc. Indicate on your entry whether it is fiction or non-fiction (there will be separate prizes). (Note that in the Monterroso story quoted above there ARE two characters, the guy and the dinosaur.)
The contest is open to any living, sentient being in the universe. It is not limited to people who are already on the blog or VCFA students or former students. Everyone is welcome, and also welcome to join in other conversations or suggest topics.
Entries will be accepted between September 1 and September 15, 2010 (midnight), and should be written in English (Gary) and attached as comments to this post (the usual practice at NC).
Remember the values we hold dear here at Numéro Cinq: WIT & ARROGANCE. Remember Gordon Lish’s phrase ATTACK SENTENCES!
P.S. Anyone who mentions the insidious phrase “flash fiction” will have his or her comment deleted from the blog. I mean this! Delete it from your minds. This is not a flash fiction contest.