Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

"Flash Fiction" by James Thomas, Denise Thomas and Tom Hazuka (eds) (Norton, 1992)

72 stories c.250-750 words long selected by the editors and their students. The editors had produced books of "Sudden fiction" (max 1,750 words) in the past and felt that they needed a different title for this book, so they coined the term "Flash". The pieces were chosen to be presented without page-turning, but in the end page-turning was felt to be part of the prose-reading process - stories begin more than halfway down the page thus forcing at least one page turn. I think times have changed. In the introduction it says "public taste for brevity in fiction has fluctuated over the years. Fifty years ago very short stories could be found in such magazines as Liberty, but fifteen years ago it was most unusual to come across a story of under five pages in the respected magazines and literary journals of this country".

Carolyn Forché's "The Colonel" is presented here as a single paragraph. Russell Edson's piece could have appeared in a poetry book. There are also pieces by Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, Heinrich Boll, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and Margaret Atwood. It was interesting to see the variety of ways used to finish a story (and these are mostly stories). My favourites were "The Stones" by Richard Shelton, "Jane" by Steven Molen, "Bread" by Margaret Atwood, and "A Chronicler's Sin" by Pavao Pavlicić.

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