A hint can be taken at a glance. These stories can nearly be read in one.


I'm comfortable calling them that.

Reading Michael Martone's story of exactly 25 words—"The Attaché Explains to His Fiancée the Bolt of Gingham Cloth in the Corner"—I feel as if I've been lowered into a room, unseen, for an instant of privileged observation. But not any instant; the crucial one. In the space of the attaché's offering of words, I come to the discreet satisfaction of a man accustomed to the exercise of small power. I see the complacency of hands in fine pockets, and I wonder, as other readers will, about the fiancée. Is she listening? Does she see how she is positioned within words which themselves become an exercise of power? How will this woman react?

I've taken a long dive there, and from a short board. But isn't that the point?  The writer has gathered a handful of words, has shaped them. How far can we go?

That's one way to read. Here's another:

You've clicked on Roxane Gay's "I Know Things about the Girls Next Door." You have twenty-four words. Three sentences. From the base they provide, you might travel, ask questions. But you can also stay with them—the sentences, words. You can gaze at them, like something in the bottom half inch of a test tube. Within this substance, possibilities swirl.

The ten writers gathered here each have another story in Hint Fiction, the anthology edited by Robert Swartwood which is forthcoming from Norton. We've relished the chance to partner with him in bringing you these ten stories, and—along with lots of others, I'm sure—we're pretty much ready for the day when the book is here in our hands.

Scott Garson edits Wigleaf.

To link to this directly: http://wigleaf.com/hfforeword.htm

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