With this micronarrative, I wanted to represent the cityscape of Hong Kong in a new way. First, I tracked the actual physical labyrinth of the city by having my narrator do a simple thing—buy a bottle of water—in a crazily complicated manner: a labyrinth of movement. Next, I wanted to have the movement of the narrative itself be maze-like, and for this I created a fusion of Eastern and Western script direction conventions. I studied the scripts closely at the Forest of Stone Tablets in Xian and later at the Palace Museum in Taipei. Then I fused classical Chinese script conventions with a rare ancient Greek script pattern known as boustrophedonic writing—words that read first from left to right and then from right to left, on alternating lines. The Greek name suggests writing which moves ‘as the ox ploughs’ a field. I adapted both Greek and Chinese scripts further by switching from horizontal to vertical axes. I wanted to write the story in ‘characters,’ like a Chinese story, but with Roman characters, i.e., block capitals, without punctuation, a bit like a monumental engraving. And finally, I wanted the story itself as a whole to signify formally in a way that related to Chinese history and Chinese mysticism. For this, I adapted the shape of the entire story into a single hexagram of the I Ching, the Book of Changes. The micronarrative itself is compressed into the shape of the 56th Hexagram of the I Ching, which itself has a title, The Wanderer. This seemed apposite for this particular piece, since both narrator and reader wander through the world of the story, though in different ways: the narrator through the labyrinth of the city, the reader through the labyrinth of the writing.
About the Author
Mark Crimmins’s fiction was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize, a 2015 Best of the Net Award, and a 2015 Silver Pen Authors Association Write Well Award. His short stories have been published in Confrontation, Prick of the Spindle, Eclectica, Cortland Review, Tampa Review, Columbia, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Queen’s Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Cha, Pif Magazine, Del Sol Review, and Chicago Quarterly Review. His flash fictions have been published in Eunoia Review, Flash Frontier, Portland Review, Gravel, Eastlit, Restless Magazine, Atticus Review, Apocrypha & Abstractions, Dogzplot, Spelk, Long Exposure, Chaleur, Pure Slush, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen.