A Flash Of Inspiration: ‘El Raval’ by James Brodows

Photo by Markus Grossalber from Flickr

Photo by Markus Grossalber from Flickr


Our Flash of Inspiration this month is ‘El Raval’ by James Brodows a sharp, tight unravelling of the narrator’s evening.

A flash fiction piece can grab your attention for any number of reasons. The lyricism of the language, the vividness of the setting, the voice of the character, an unexpected or unnerving ending. Sometimes though, the pace and control of the author takes you by the hand – a shockwave of excitement or unease that keeps you reading.

In the case of ‘El Raval’ I fell for the tight, giddiness of the events described, the anger and sexual uncertainty, the narrator’s feverish isolation in an unknown and open-ended situation. The ending is clever and fitful, sending the reader back to the beginning, over and over. James gave us these answers from somewhere in the stark Russian winter.


James Brodows

James Brodows

 Interview With James Brodows

Cat: Who was the reader you had in mind for this story?

James: The reader of this story.

Cat: What were you doing when your best ever idea came to you?

James: I don’t know.

Cat: Are your ideas generated/borrowed/stolen?

James: Sometimes.

Cat: What do you do with an unconvincing piece of work? Rework/recycle/reject?

James: Rebirth.

Cat: Who do you admire in spades?

James: Johnny Miller, on/off course.

Cat: Urban or rural? Domestic or exotic? Language or plot? First, second or third person?

James: Everywhere everybody everything.

Cat: What’s the best or worst rejection you’ve ever received?

James: The New Yorker.

Cat: What are your cardinal rules for writing flash fiction? How often do you bend them yourself?

James: None.

Catherine McNamara

About Catherine McNamara

Catherine McNamara grew up in Sydney and went to Paris to study French. She ended up in West Africa running a bar. Her collection 'Pelt and Other Stories' was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize. Her work has been shortlisted and anthologised widely. She lives in Italy and has great collections of West African sculpture and Italian heels.




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