The Art of the Short Story


Economy of expression is a rare gift and one that becomes an art form in the stories written by Apol Lejano-Massebieau, aka la pomme. I have become an avid reader of Apol's stories over the past few months so when she announced on her blog recently that she had compiled her first pocket sized anthology, I immediately pounced on a copy and the volume of seven small-but-perfectly-formed stories with a cover adorned with a swatch of white lace and a tiny key came winging its way to me last week.

The success of Apol's stories lies in the way that she absorbs themes and ideas from much loved fairytales, myths and fables and makes them over in a contemporary way so that they are not anchored in a forgotten past but relevant to today. The story 'Jasmine' is about a girl who has transformed into a flower. We are not told how or why she turned into a flower but the classical myths involving metamorphosis (like the nymph Daphne transforming into a laurel tree while fleeing the amorous advances of Apollo) seem to form the imaginative backdrop to Apol's story. Jasmine is condemned to an eternity of playing childish games with the other flower girls, forever denied the experience of growing into womanhood.

I've juxtaposed Apol's stories alongside tales from The Eastern Anthology, a four volume collection of Eastern love stories translated by E. Powys Mathers, with hand-tipped engravings by Hester Sainsbury (London: John Rodker,1929).


The stories from Apol's 'Imagined Histories' series are particularly fine examples of her narrative skill. In the series she constructs stories from artifacts found at antiques markets such as old keys, letters and vintage textiles. An antique key generated a story about a woman named Elena who has been given an enchanted key that purportedly unlocks a chamber containing the riches of one's life. She spends the remainder of her life obsessively looking for the chamber and in the process ignores the riches of her actual life so that when she eventually finds the chamber all she discovers is an empty room.

A doll's head with a curious stain on it inspired a story about a baby born with a birthmark on its face. She was so feared by the villagers who believed that her birth was a harbinger of doom that they abandoned her beneath a tree to die. This callous action sealed their fate - eventually the baby was devoured by animals but thereafter they developed a taste for human blood and I think you can guess what happened to the villagers...

If you feel like slipping away to an imaginary realm for the afternoon (as I often do) and journeying to a place where a pair of scissors can cut the thread of your dreams or everything in a room turns blue before your very eyes or where sad Rosenda waits for the lover who will never return, then one click will take you there.

Comments

Annette F. Tait said…
this is a wonderful tribute to Apol's exquisite zines!
By far the very best zines I have seen - and ofcourse her new series!
(I love stories too, but the ones I write are far different and have 2 rabbits in them :) )
I bet Apol will be delighted when she sees this wonderful post!
Her zine has gone to a very worthy home!
Bronwyn Lloyd said…
Thanks Annette - and lovely to see your own creativity used in the service of such a worthy cause on your blog - such beautiful rabbits!
La Pomme said…
I am immensely flattered to see you talking about my works here, Bronwyn. Thank you so much, and am happy to hear that you have got your little zine!
so happy to find this blog, books and crafts, my favourite things! the multiple orbs in the red dot pop up book has blown my mind and piqued my curiosity. must put it on my evergrowing books list.

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