“After a hard day’s make-believe I like to just kick back with my creations.”
They might be (very) short stories, or they might be poetry, or they might be something else entirely. It’s a bit hard to pin down the tiny stories that make up this collaborative anthology, which was compiled by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his partner-in-crime, wirrow. This is the third and final volume they have put together from a selection of contributions to the Tiny Stories project on the hitrecord.org website. Eighty-two contributors are credited in this volume, and more than 35 000 have contributed to the online archive. All contributions are available to be remixed by participants, and half of the proceeds from the publication of the Tiny Stories series go to the contributors, with the other half going back into the production company.
Each page or two page spread features an illustration paired with a short piece of text. Many wouldn’t mean much alone, but together they are powerful. The drawings are mostly black and white, but more colour has crept into them as the series goes on. Volume 1 was entirely black and white, while Volume 2 included thirteen images that incorporated the colour red. Volume 3 includes fifteen colour illustrations, and incorporates a wider variety of colours. It’s a delight to happen upon the coloured pictures in the midst of their black and white counterparts. While Volume 2 didn’t suffer for exploring what can be done with black, white, grey, and red, Volume 3 opens the door on wider possibilities.
The stories cover a broad range, from sweet (“Ok let’s snuggle for the whole day and then maybe two more whole days but then we’ll get up and do some work! And we’ll just take snuggle breaks in between to reward ourselves”) to melancholy (“This overwhelming desire to be close to you directly conflicts with my intense fear of people”) to creepy (“I want desperately to press you between the pages of a book and keep you forever”). They are incredibly varied, with their greatest commonality being the amount of room left for interpretation by the reader. There’s what’s on the page, and then there’s what you read into it. Tiny stories leave more than the usual amount of room for the reader’s imagination to run wild within the sketchy bounds of the narrative. The stories are a little bit like zen koans; if you can prevent yourself from greedily gobbling them up in one sitting, you could stop and ponder each one for quite some time. The Tiny Stories have just gotten better with each successive volume, and I am beyond sad that this one is set to be the last in the series. Fortunately, they only get better with re-reading.
You can now get your Required Reading updates on Facebook. Like Required Reading through the widget to your right, or visit my page directly.