Flash Fiction: for writers, readers, editors, publishers, & fans


Flash Fiction Focus: The One About the Dog

I recently came across a won­der­ful series of flashes from Kath­leen Rooney and Elisa Gab­bert, Col­lab­o­ra­tive Jokes, in Davis Schneiderman’s The &NOW Awards 2 Anthol­ogy, “which fea­tures writ­ing as a con­tem­po­rary art form: writ­ing as it is prac­ticed today by authors who con­sciously treat their work as an art, as well as a skill explic­itly aware of its own lit­er­ary and extra-lit­er­ary history–as much about its form and mate­ri­als, lan­guage is about its sub­ject mat­ter.” Here is the first in the series:

The one about the dog.

A poodle walks into a bar. The poodle wants to 1) have fun, 2) make money, 3) meet other dogs who think they’re peo­ple. She’s not poor, so why wouldn’t she hold her­self to higher eth­i­cal stan­dards than those strug­gling to cling to the base of Maslow’s pyra­mid? A kind of car­tog­ra­phy, a dan­ger­ous fan­tasy. Busi­ness is plea­sure. She answers to the name of Fauna. You wouldn’t know it from her hair­cut, but she hates in-group con­formism. There’s alco­holism, & then there’s social depen­dency.


I’d pub­lished Rooney’s and Gabbert’s col­lab­o­ra­tive work myself at Mat­ter Press’s Jour­nal of Com­pressed Cre­ative Arts (“The One About Ambiva­lence”), so I came to their work already a huge fan. What I love about this piece is 1) that of all the dogs that could walk into a bar it’s a poodle (imag­ine the dif­fer­ence if it were a pit bull or Jack Rus­sell, 2) that fauna means ani­mals as a group and a sex­u­ally desir­able young woman, or so Urban Dic­tio­nary says, and 3) you wouldn’t know it from her hair­cut. I love the sur­prise of each choice, that feel­ing that I have no idea where I’m being taken: to a bar, through Maslow’s pyra­mid, a kind of car­tog­ra­phy, and then there, at the end, is social depen­dence. The three defin­ing terms of social depen­dency are these: 1) every­day self-care com­pe­tence, 2) mobil­ity com­pe­tence, and 3) social com­pe­tence. One rarely thinks of a dog in such terms. But how fun(ny) it is to do so.

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