Magazine article World Literature Today

Short Flights: Thirty-Two Modern Writers Share Aphorisms of Insight, Inspiration, and Wit

Magazine article World Literature Today

Short Flights: Thirty-Two Modern Writers Share Aphorisms of Insight, Inspiration, and Wit

Article excerpt

Short Flights: Thirty-Two Modern Writers Share Aphorisms of Insight, Inspiration, and Wit. Ed. James Lough & Alex Stein. Tucson, Arizona. Schaffner Press. 2015. 239 pages.

We live in a time of brevity. From the truncated language of text messages to the popularity of the 140-word tweet, we have lost our patience for extended intellectual observation. This anthology seeks to bring forth the literary importance of a shorter genre often overlooked: the aphorism. Not quite poetry, and definitely not prose, this little figure is something we encounter daily. It may be on a T-shirt or a bumper sticker, an advertisement, or on a meme making the rounds on the Internet. These little bursts of wit, as James Lough writes, "see more deeply than most of us usually dare"; an aphorism "seduces, surprises, and sinks in."

Short Flights seeks to explicate the form, history, and practice of the aphorism as well as inject contemporary tidbits into the collective literary psyche. Most of us are familiar with the quips of Oscar Wilde and the memorable one-liners from the endless plays of William Shakespeare. So much work is done with so few words. Editors James Lough and Alex Stein have collected thirty-two contributions by a variety of writers for this project, including poet Charles Simic. …

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