Do you love poetry? Me too! OK, so some people don’t like poetry. Most of them aren’t reading a literary magazine right now, but even some people who love a literary article won’t show much interest in poetry. Now that I have that out of the way, Where Oceans Meet is a book of Heather McQuillan’s flash fiction stories. So, why the hell am I talking about poetry? McQuillan isn’t only giving you an interesting piece of fiction to read and ponder on, she is giving you a carefully crafted story where each word has been thoughtfully chosen.
Imagine a cold weekend afternoon, sitting by the fire, drinking red wine, tea, hot chocolate, or a Jägerbomb. You open up Where Oceans Meet and read aloud: “the earth and him, they were one. When his legs pounded, the impact formed strong bones. Fibula, tibia, femur,” from the flash fiction Mothers of Miners.
While the book is full of stories and not poetry, it is so very poetic in nature. I couldn’t help but read stories aloud, and I found that rereading them made me learn new things about them, just like poetry. Reading the flash fiction Two Milligrams and All Is Silence, you quickly see how McQuillan uses metaphor and carefully chosen structure with versus like “after a lifetime of swallowing words, her oesophagus is lined with arguments that blister the walls. Things unsaid stick in her craw so that a doctor must push down a tube and lens to see what it is that obstructs her gullet.”
While she writes very good poetic work, she also tells a great story. At times you’ll find her words chilling and final, when she writes things like: “My father was improvident. He ran out of time in an ocean rip. His final breath, when I was only eleven, was salt,” in Your Father Carries Time in His Pocket.
New Zealand writer Heather McQuillan blurs the line between flash fiction and poetry, which makes Where Oceans Meet great for everyone from a Jägerbomb slamming flash fiction reader to a tea sipping poetry enthusiast.