Produced by indy publishing house Present Joys, Extra Ordinary: Words by Supermundane (real name Rob Lowe), is a publication that certainly rings true to its name. Contained within a 20 page booklet are 55 ‘micro dramas’, which are probably best described as extremely short pieces of flash fiction, much in the same vein as that famous six-word story from Hemingway – For sale: baby shoes, never worn. While none of the stories contained within Extra Ordinary are as short as Hemingway’s six-word masterpiece (one did come close at seven words :)), all are particularly fleeting, with none of the stories extending past a single, short paragraph.
So the question of course, is whether this collection of ‘micro dramas’ is as ‘supermundane’ as Lowe’s nom de plume, or if we can drop the ‘mundane’ altogether and just go with the word ‘super’? Well, having read through all 55 entries on what was a dreary Sunday afternoon, I’m happy to say that none of the ‘stories’ could be labeled mundane. Not only did Lowe’s imaginative writings lift my mood on a dull day, but most of the writings also managed to spark up my own imagination, as I tried to expand on the flickers of fiction which were presented to me. Of course I wouldn’t say that all of Lowe’s micro creations hit the mark with me, but a large percentage of them certainly did, and I consider that a winner. My absolute favourite? Well, that would be this one:
The trees spoke in a language of the breeze he didn’t understand. He thanked God for this fact as he kicked his chainsaw into life.
What a superb nugget of fiction that is (it certainly plays havoc with my tree-hugging sensitivities :)), and the ‘story’ is pretty indicative of the general flavour of these ‘micro dramas’ (although many are more open-ended at their conclusion).
So what about downsides? Well, if anyone is looking for an exquisitely bound volume then this isn’t it. As mentioned in the opening paragraph Extra Ordinary is a booklet rather than a fully-fledged book (the product page illustrates this better), but coming in at only 20 pages with a price point of £3.50 (includes free shipping), who in all honesty would expect anything more substantial? Additionally, those looking for fancy graphics or commissioned artwork will also be disappointed. Extra Ordinary is 100% typography-based (as are all of Present Joys’ products), which is no bad thing of course, especially when it suggests that the publisher isn’t trying to put a fancy wrapping on things, and that they are, instead, letting the words speak for themselves.
All in all then, a commendable little publication, that’s perfect for the pocket – both in terms of price and in portability. I look forward to further editions.
Present Joys | £3.50 | PAPERBACK | 20 PP | ISBN: 9780956514202