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Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories

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After publication of the first Flash Fiction anthology over a decade ago, “flash” became part of the creative writing lexicon for readers, writers, students, and teachers. In this follow-up collection, the editors once again tackle the question: “How short can a story be and truly be a story?” Determined to find the best flashes from America in the twenty-first century, Ja After publication of the first Flash Fiction anthology over a decade ago, “flash” became part of the creative writing lexicon for readers, writers, students, and teachers. In this follow-up collection, the editors once again tackle the question: “How short can a story be and truly be a story?” Determined to find the best flashes from America in the twenty-first century, James Thomas and Robert Shapard searched everywhere for stories that were not merely good but memorable. Moving, and certainly unforgettable, this collection includes stories from the best and most popular fiction writers of our time, including Ron Carlson, Robert Coover, Steve Almond, Amy Hempel, A. M. Homes, Grace Paley, and Paul Theroux. In addition, Rick Moody properly defines armoire, Lydia Davis delves into a world of cats, and Dave Eggers explores narrow escapes. Over and over, these stories prove that often less is more.


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After publication of the first Flash Fiction anthology over a decade ago, “flash” became part of the creative writing lexicon for readers, writers, students, and teachers. In this follow-up collection, the editors once again tackle the question: “How short can a story be and truly be a story?” Determined to find the best flashes from America in the twenty-first century, Ja After publication of the first Flash Fiction anthology over a decade ago, “flash” became part of the creative writing lexicon for readers, writers, students, and teachers. In this follow-up collection, the editors once again tackle the question: “How short can a story be and truly be a story?” Determined to find the best flashes from America in the twenty-first century, James Thomas and Robert Shapard searched everywhere for stories that were not merely good but memorable. Moving, and certainly unforgettable, this collection includes stories from the best and most popular fiction writers of our time, including Ron Carlson, Robert Coover, Steve Almond, Amy Hempel, A. M. Homes, Grace Paley, and Paul Theroux. In addition, Rick Moody properly defines armoire, Lydia Davis delves into a world of cats, and Dave Eggers explores narrow escapes. Over and over, these stories prove that often less is more.

30 review for Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    I enjoy a thick novel as much as anyone, but there's nothing quite like fleshy, well-rounded fiction crammed into 1-2 pages. Like a message in a bottle or a severe note scrawled upon a Post-It, well-written flash fiction has the ability to boggle the mind, inspire, or sadden just like lengthy fiction. No, I don't think it will replace the novel, or even normal-sized short stories, but as our attention spans contine to shrink I can see flash fiction becoming increasingly popular. As far as this co I enjoy a thick novel as much as anyone, but there's nothing quite like fleshy, well-rounded fiction crammed into 1-2 pages. Like a message in a bottle or a severe note scrawled upon a Post-It, well-written flash fiction has the ability to boggle the mind, inspire, or sadden just like lengthy fiction. No, I don't think it will replace the novel, or even normal-sized short stories, but as our attention spans contine to shrink I can see flash fiction becoming increasingly popular. As far as this collection goes, there are some amazing stories as well as a large number of duds. I'm not surprised. It's hard to write FF well. Nearly impossible. The good news is that the most time you'll spend reading a bad story is about 1-3 minutes. Unlike slogging through a bad novel, where 12+ hours of your life could be wasted! These are the stories that stuck out to me as exceedingly excellent in one way or another: -Sashimi Cashmere, Carolyn Forde -Sleeping, Katharine Weber -The Voices in My Head, Jack Handey -Why You Shouldn't Have Gone in the First Place, Samantha Schoech -Bullhead, Leigh Allison Wilson -Accident, Dave Eggers -Words, John A. McCaffrey -The Black City, Leonardo Alishan -That Could Have Been You, Jim Heynen -How to End Up, Jennifer A. Howard -The Orange, Benjamin Rosenbaum -21, Jim Crace -To Reduce Your Liklihood of Murder, Ander Monson -Crazy Glue, Etgar Keret -Pledge Drive, Patricia Marx -The Handbag, Michael Augustin -Parrot Talk, Kit Coyne Irwin -The Death of the Short Story, J. David Stevens So yeah, that's about 18/80 really good stories. Calculates out to 20%, but only a few of the ones not mentioned were truly horrendous. I only include this list because I found them to be truly spectacular. If you don't have time to read the whole book, or are interested in writing your own flash fiction, you should at least check these out. Then, if you have time, go ahead and read the whole collection. You won't be disappointed!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    This was such a fun read! I wasn't aware that flash fiction/short-short fiction was a thing, so when my creative writing teacher put this in our hands and we began discussing it for class, I fell in love! All of the stories are 4 pages or less, which I thought gave it a lot of potential to be very fascinating. It made the book go by quickly, but each story (or, most of them) still packed its own distinct punch. It's hard to rate this as a whole because I would give some stories a million stars b This was such a fun read! I wasn't aware that flash fiction/short-short fiction was a thing, so when my creative writing teacher put this in our hands and we began discussing it for class, I fell in love! All of the stories are 4 pages or less, which I thought gave it a lot of potential to be very fascinating. It made the book go by quickly, but each story (or, most of them) still packed its own distinct punch. It's hard to rate this as a whole because I would give some stories a million stars but others maybe only 3, so I think 4 is an overall representation meaning that I enjoyed probably about 75% of these stories. My favorite out of this collection are: -Stories by John Edgar Wideman (read here: http://www.conjunctions.com/archives/...) -Baker's Helper by Cynthia Anderon ***AMAZING (read here: http://cbanderson.net/bakers-helper/) -Sleeping by Katharine Weber (read here: http://www.vestalreview.net/sleeping.htm) -Currents by Hannah Bottomy (read here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by...) -The Great Open Mouth Anti-Sadness by Ron Carlson (read here: -Things You Should Know by A.M. Homes -Rose by John Biguenet -The Voices in my Head by Jack Handey (read here: http://thejazzy.tripod.com/voices.html) -Bullhead by Leigh Allison Wilson -The Wallet by Andrew McCuaig (read here: http://brookwood.edu/sites/brookwood....) -How To End Up by Jennifer A. Howard -The Doctor by Ann Hood -Crazy Glue by Etgar Keret (read here: http://www.pulp.net/fiction/stories/0...) -The Paperboy by Sherrie Flick -Test by G.A. Ingersoll (read here: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&am...) -Diagnostic Drift by Michael Martone (read here: http://www.webdelsol.com/Other_Voices...) This is definitely a great place to start with flash fiction if you've never heard of it and want to try some! I thought it was a lot of fun and this had a balance of humorous and meaningful pieces.

  3. 4 out of 5

    May

    I've been binge-reading a lot of flash fiction lately, which is a pretty easy and wonderful thing to do anytime and anywhere. Riding the MTR, waiting for mom to finish her errands at the bank, sitting on the toilet ... you name it. As the title of the anthology suggests, the stories in Flash Fiction Forward are each over in a flash, and the authors only have so many pages that they can use to surprise or move us. Sometimes, the stories end too soon and expectations are not met. Most times, however I've been binge-reading a lot of flash fiction lately, which is a pretty easy and wonderful thing to do anytime and anywhere. Riding the MTR, waiting for mom to finish her errands at the bank, sitting on the toilet ... you name it. As the title of the anthology suggests, the stories in Flash Fiction Forward are each over in a flash, and the authors only have so many pages that they can use to surprise or move us. Sometimes, the stories end too soon and expectations are not met. Most times, however, the pieces in this collection show me the magic of short form. Many of the writers use the brevity of their stories to experiment with style: "Currents" is told backwards, "To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder" is a list of of orders ("Do not go outside. Do not go outside, on dates, or to the store..."), "Test" is a four-part 'exam' that makes you rethink your life (with Extra Credit, "Fully explain the ways in which you are wrong"). A lot of the stories also use their endings to effectively reverse the impressions that we formed at the beginning, meaning that our initial assumptions still linger in our heads by the time a story is over (after all, each one is so short) and make us wonder about what on earth just happened. In "Accident," a car accident that could have gone terribly wrong turns into an opportunity for the protagonist to potentially make new friends and come to terms with his loneliness; in "The Handbag," a crime devolves into an unusual and low-key romance story. In "The Good Life," a woman who seemingly has it all going for her turns out to be stuck in a rather dark place. Due to their brevity, the stories also have the space to capture single symbols very wholesomely and memorably. In "Parrot Talk," our protagonist - like the parrot she talks about - has also "adapted to a hostile environment" and flourishes in it. In "Toasters," the image of two slices of bread popping out simultaneously (plus the heat/suspense/force that comes with it) echoes the double domestic fights happening in the story. Short and daring, some stories also just simply throw you something bizarre and let you absorb it for a spell. "My Date with Neanderthal Woman" transfixes you from start to finish in all its brilliant strangeness and unconventionality, the ending of "Crazy Glue" feels like a dream, and "The Orange" is about a fruit that ruled the world (until it was eaten). The last piece in the collection is called "Death of the Short Story," but the imagination and gusto of the stories in this anthology prove that the short-short story is more alive than ever. Even the ending of that last piece, which reveals how everyone started making up "lies about the Story," demonstrates the immortality of fiction. As writers and readers, we are indeed always waiting for "a sliver of light" to "break loose from the oblong, suspended momentarily like a musical note on fire before streaking recklessly into the surrounding night," inspiring our writing and illuminating our lives with a literal flash of fiction.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Snoek-Brown

    I have mixed feelings about the short-short (or flash fiction, of micro-fiction, or whatever it is we want to call it these days). On the one hand, it's a powerful form, as close to the compression and deceptive complexity of poetry as fiction can get (my friend Beth Ann Fennelly, who is one of my favorite poets, insists there is no difference between the short-short and the prose poem, and I can't find any good reason to disagree with her). But because the short-short is so, well, short, writer I have mixed feelings about the short-short (or flash fiction, of micro-fiction, or whatever it is we want to call it these days). On the one hand, it's a powerful form, as close to the compression and deceptive complexity of poetry as fiction can get (my friend Beth Ann Fennelly, who is one of my favorite poets, insists there is no difference between the short-short and the prose poem, and I can't find any good reason to disagree with her). But because the short-short is so, well, short, writers deceive themselves into thinking it's an easy genre, and to be honest, most of what I read turns out to be silly at best: they're often sketches in the guise of a story, or scenes that belong in a longer story, or poems having an identity crisis. Sometimes they're not anything at all--a writing exercise gone bad, or just foolishness made out of words. And, to be fair, some of the stories in this book are like that, inglorious examples of all of the above. (Why, for instance, did the editors insist on including humor bits from the New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" section? I'm as big a fan of Jack Handey as any New Yorker reader can be, but really, is this genuine fiction?) But some of these stories are surprisingly effective, even when they start out reading like disasters. John Edgar Wideman's "Stories," for example, reads for all the world like a list of story ideas generated by a writing exercise, but if you stick with it, it provides a surprising and almost poetic turn at the end that keeps me rereading the piece again and again. Tom Hazuka's "I Didn't Do That" is a haunting, disturbing little piece, barely a page long but heavy on the mind. Kit Coyne Irwin's "Parrot Talk" and Eva Marie Ginsburg's "The Kettle" ought to read like silly puns or cute cocktail-party jokes, but they bring such human emotion and clever wordplay into these tiny stories that I read each of them out loud to my wife, just for the excuse to read them a second time. I could go on, because while some of these stories are disappointing, the bulk of them are delightful, and a surprising number are true gems, tiny but radiant examples of what Italo Calvino calls the quality of "quickness" at work in only the best literature. It's not a perfect book, but it's certainly worth reading and, if you're a writer, worth keeping on your bookshelf.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy Nicole

    So this was my first time reading flash fiction -- short short stories no longer than 2 pages each -- and I really enjoyed it. I made a list of the stories in this anthology that really struck me. Then the list kept getting longer and longer and wound up being about half of the book, so I had to condense it to just the very very best. I've found a few new authors I need to stalk and read more of. I would definitely recommend reading this if you like modern stories, literary stories, weird storie So this was my first time reading flash fiction -- short short stories no longer than 2 pages each -- and I really enjoyed it. I made a list of the stories in this anthology that really struck me. Then the list kept getting longer and longer and wound up being about half of the book, so I had to condense it to just the very very best. I've found a few new authors I need to stalk and read more of. I would definitely recommend reading this if you like modern stories, literary stories, weird stories, somewhat funny stories. I was pleased with the collection. A list of my noted favorites: Before the Bath by Ismail Kadare (translated from the Albanian by Peter Constantine) Sleeping by Katharine Weber 1951 by Richard Bausch The Voices in My Head by Jack Handey Reviving Pater by John Goulet My Date with Neanderthal Woman by David Galef The Orange by Benjamin Rosenbaum To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder by Ander Monson What Were the White Things? by Amy Hempel Test by G.A. Ingersoll 00:02:36:58 by Bayard Godsave Mr. Nikos Nikou by Ersi Sotiropoulos (translated from the Greek by Stratis Haviaras) Toasters by Pamela Painter Oh, and this line from the story The Black City by Leonardo Alishan: "every day that she spends with you is spent in sorrow for the day and in despair for tomorrow; thus, I, her yesterday, grow happier and more radiant in her memory. How wrong you are, on the other side, to think the past cannot be changed."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Napolitano

    A lot of good stuff, a lot of okay stuff. Raises a lot of questions in my mind about the gimmicky nature of flash and makes me nervous, but overall I still love the genre. My favorite stories from this collection are: "Stories" by John Edgar Wideman, "Sleeping" by Katharine Weber, "Currents" by Hannah Bottomy, "Consuming the View" by Luigi Malerba, "Things You Should Know" by A.M. Homes, "Blind Fish" by Melanie Rae Thon, "Why You Shouldn't Have Gone in the First Place" by Samantha Schoech, "All G A lot of good stuff, a lot of okay stuff. Raises a lot of questions in my mind about the gimmicky nature of flash and makes me nervous, but overall I still love the genre. My favorite stories from this collection are: "Stories" by John Edgar Wideman, "Sleeping" by Katharine Weber, "Currents" by Hannah Bottomy, "Consuming the View" by Luigi Malerba, "Things You Should Know" by A.M. Homes, "Blind Fish" by Melanie Rae Thon, "Why You Shouldn't Have Gone in the First Place" by Samantha Schoech, "All Girl Band" by Utahna Faith, "Words," by John A. McCaffrey, "21" by Jim Crace, "To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder" by Ander Monson, "Oliver's Evolution" by John Updike, "Crazy Glue" by Edgar Keret, "Pledge Drive" by Patricia Marx, and "Test" by G.A. Ingersoll. Yes, I had 15 favorites. But that's out of 80 stories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    As with any collection of short stories, whether by a single author or anthology, there will be selections that often range widely and will appeal to different people, but overall I thought this group enjoyable and entertaining, often clever and humorous, with an occasional spot of melancholy. They often made you think. I marveled. And the best part is if you got caught up in one that didn't really catch your interest, you just had to turn a page. Some of the authors are somewhat well known to m As with any collection of short stories, whether by a single author or anthology, there will be selections that often range widely and will appeal to different people, but overall I thought this group enjoyable and entertaining, often clever and humorous, with an occasional spot of melancholy. They often made you think. I marveled. And the best part is if you got caught up in one that didn't really catch your interest, you just had to turn a page. Some of the authors are somewhat well known to me, but I was rewarded with a couple of names I plan to pursue. A worthwhile read that I recommend. in fact, I just passed it along to a friend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    This was a rewarding read. Eighty stories, each under 750 words, to really test the writers and explore how to tell a complete story in such constraints. This is an educational manual for any writer, I feel, as well as an excellent creative challenge. The writers within did an excellent job of plunging into engaging narration with vivid characters, giving the reader every cause to follow the action. There are in my estimation two negative points about this collection. One is that many writers had This was a rewarding read. Eighty stories, each under 750 words, to really test the writers and explore how to tell a complete story in such constraints. This is an educational manual for any writer, I feel, as well as an excellent creative challenge. The writers within did an excellent job of plunging into engaging narration with vivid characters, giving the reader every cause to follow the action. There are in my estimation two negative points about this collection. One is that many writers had nothing else to say within the constraints of an urgent message than to pontificate over dead babies, personal tragedy, the miserable side to human existence, and suffering. Much of this book is a real downer, like someone saw their door was only open a crack so they'd better shoot you in the face and make it count. The second point is my problem entirely, not the fault of the writers or the editors at all. One problem I have with contemporary short stories, at any length, in many publications, is that they're fucking pointless. You start to get to know the characters, you get into the flow of the action, and then they just end with nothing happening at all. No satisfying conclusion, no denouement, no punchline, nothing. It's like going to see a slow-moving drama and walking out after the first third of the film. What was the point? What were they trying to express? Is every work of postmodern fiction beholden to underscoring the arbitrary nature of existence? I can't stand it, but it's a very popular approach for many very talented and insightful writers, so I recognize the problem is mine alone. That doesn't make me like it any better, and this book has it in spades.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    1 Sentence Summary: A collection of flash fiction stories. My Thoughts: It's always a mixed bag with anthologies like this. Some of the stories I loved, and others I hated. My two favorites were "Reviving Pater" by John Goulet and "The Handbag" by Michael Augustin. Recommend to: People who enjoy flash fiction. 1 Sentence Summary: A collection of flash fiction stories. My Thoughts: It's always a mixed bag with anthologies like this. Some of the stories I loved, and others I hated. My two favorites were "Reviving Pater" by John Goulet and "The Handbag" by Michael Augustin. Recommend to: People who enjoy flash fiction.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Kelly

    A good selection of short stories. You're bound to find at least a couple you really like. All are really short but pack a punch A good selection of short stories. You're bound to find at least a couple you really like. All are really short but pack a punch

  11. 5 out of 5

    Clare Carter

    *3.5 stars* I had to read this for class and I thought it was really cool just because I've never read this many stories this short before. There were some that were REAL weird but here are my top 5 favorites in the 80 stories! (In no particular order) 1. Currents by Hannah Bottomy 2. The Wallet by Andrew McCuaig 3. To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder by Ander Monson 4. Oliver's Evolution by John Updike 5. Test by G. A. Ingersoll I really liked about 10 more or so (maybe a little less). It was a very *3.5 stars* I had to read this for class and I thought it was really cool just because I've never read this many stories this short before. There were some that were REAL weird but here are my top 5 favorites in the 80 stories! (In no particular order) 1. Currents by Hannah Bottomy 2. The Wallet by Andrew McCuaig 3. To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder by Ander Monson 4. Oliver's Evolution by John Updike 5. Test by G. A. Ingersoll I really liked about 10 more or so (maybe a little less). It was a very quick read, luckily! If you're a busy person looking for just a tiny bit to read before bed, these type of stories are for you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    C.J. J Richardson

    I found this quite a mixed bag and couldn't always see 'the point' but the one that has stuck in my mind more than any other is 'WORDS' by John A. McCaffrey. One or two others made me think, particularly 'The Black City' by Leonardo Alishan and I laughed out loud reading 'My date with Neanderthal Woman' by David Galef. I found this quite a mixed bag and couldn't always see 'the point' but the one that has stuck in my mind more than any other is 'WORDS' by John A. McCaffrey. One or two others made me think, particularly 'The Black City' by Leonardo Alishan and I laughed out loud reading 'My date with Neanderthal Woman' by David Galef.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    With 80 short-short stories by 80 different authors, you can argue that there is something here for everyone, provided that whoever happens to open the book is interested in flash fiction in the first place. Having recently tried to write a story in 1000 or fewer words, I have a new appreciation for what many of these writers were able to accomplish in two or three pages. As is often the case with collections, some stories didn't appeal to me, but more were good: entertaining and imaginative, ti With 80 short-short stories by 80 different authors, you can argue that there is something here for everyone, provided that whoever happens to open the book is interested in flash fiction in the first place. Having recently tried to write a story in 1000 or fewer words, I have a new appreciation for what many of these writers were able to accomplish in two or three pages. As is often the case with collections, some stories didn't appeal to me, but more were good: entertaining and imaginative, tightly written fiction in neat little packages. I especially liked these stories: "Stories" by John Edgar Wideman "Baker's Helper" by Cynthia Anderson "Sleeping" by Katharine Weber "Currents" by Hannah Bottomy "Things You Should Know" by A.M. Homes "Words" by John A. McCaffrey "That Could Have Been You" by Jim Heynen "How To End Up" by Jennifer A. Howard "To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder" by Ander Monson "Pledge Drive" by Patricia Marx "Drawer" by Rick Moody "Toasters" by Pamela Painter "The Death of the Short Story" by j. David Stevens I highly recommend watching Chris Bauer read "Drawer" by Rick Moody.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Scarpa

    Some real gems in here, mixed in with some rather forgettable stories, too. Reading eighty takes on flash fiction is interesting in a lot of different ways, and sort of confirmed my suspicion that, when done right, flash achieves something longer form simply can't. But, a lot of the rest of the time, flash ends up being a gimmick more than anything else. [Like the several stories included here that are, for all intents and purposes, punchline stories.] Stories that I just loved: "Baker's Helper" Some real gems in here, mixed in with some rather forgettable stories, too. Reading eighty takes on flash fiction is interesting in a lot of different ways, and sort of confirmed my suspicion that, when done right, flash achieves something longer form simply can't. But, a lot of the rest of the time, flash ends up being a gimmick more than anything else. [Like the several stories included here that are, for all intents and purposes, punchline stories.] Stories that I just loved: "Baker's Helper"- Cynthia Anderson "Rumors of Myself"- Steve Almond "Sleeping"- Katharine Weber "1951"- Richard Bausch "Things You Should Know"- A.M. Homes "Rose"- John Biguenet "Level"- Keith Scribner "Bullhead"- Leigh Allison Wilson "Justice—A Beginning"- Grace Paley "What Were the White Things?"- Amy Hempel "Parrot Talk"- Kit Coyne Irwin "I Didn't Do That"- Tom Hazuka "Crazy Glue"- Etgar Keret

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tennis

    Enjoyable collection of short stories. Nicest part about this collection is that even if you as the reader don't enjoy a particular author, the story will be over in only a few pages. A few of my favorites were: Sushi Cashmere (Carolyn Forde); Mandela Was Late (Peter Mehlman); Currents (Hannah Bottomy); Bullet (Kim Church); The Peterson Fire (Barry Gifford); That Could Have Been You (Jim Heynen); The Wallet (Andrew McCuaig); How to End Up (Jennifer A. Howard); Test (G.A. Ingersoll); Diagnostic D Enjoyable collection of short stories. Nicest part about this collection is that even if you as the reader don't enjoy a particular author, the story will be over in only a few pages. A few of my favorites were: Sushi Cashmere (Carolyn Forde); Mandela Was Late (Peter Mehlman); Currents (Hannah Bottomy); Bullet (Kim Church); The Peterson Fire (Barry Gifford); That Could Have Been You (Jim Heynen); The Wallet (Andrew McCuaig); How to End Up (Jennifer A. Howard); Test (G.A. Ingersoll); Diagnostic Drift (Michael Martone); The Death of the Short Story (J. David Stevens). It took me over a month to finish this collection because I was reading and writing. What I liked most about these short stories is that you can pick this book up and read something for a few minutes and then put it down again. A fun in-between book or when you don't have time to tackle a novel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Inzirillo

    This may just be a collection of flash fiction but damn is this book as thought provoking as some of the best novels out there. The collection of stories rests in a wide range of topics, genres and insanity. Some stories will make you laugh, some will make you question life and others will make you wonder what the hell you just read. I was assigned this book for a college class and was amazed at how amazing it is. Excellent read!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Fayette

    This is the first time I've consciously read Flash Fiction and I liked it very much. These very short and pithy stories, generally 750 words or less, are perfect literary adaptations for an increasingly busy and short-attentioned world. I can easily see keeping a book of flash fiction in my car or purse to pull out and read during moments of lull. I am also interested in experimenting with the writing style myself. This is the first time I've consciously read Flash Fiction and I liked it very much. These very short and pithy stories, generally 750 words or less, are perfect literary adaptations for an increasingly busy and short-attentioned world. I can easily see keeping a book of flash fiction in my car or purse to pull out and read during moments of lull. I am also interested in experimenting with the writing style myself.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dana Jerman

    Anthologies are always hit and miss (or "almost hit"). Which makes this one especially great because the stories are short, they have to be supercharged to hit their mark (the intro says it all, and the first story is rad). Enjoyable! Anthologies are always hit and miss (or "almost hit"). Which makes this one especially great because the stories are short, they have to be supercharged to hit their mark (the intro says it all, and the first story is rad). Enjoyable!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert Morgan Fisher

    Excellent flash fiction anthology that holds up. Many excellent pieces by well-known authors and those less-known.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lagobond

    3.5 stars. Short stories, as a genre, tend to be dismal and sombre. I often find myself wishing I'd picked up something cheerful instead. But I read on anyway, because when a short story works, it's a splendid thing! Like blanching vegetables: a good short story is a quick hot dip, followed by a fresh ice bath. A brief experience to heighten the color, texture, and taste of the veg, or the reader's thoughts. Blanching is not boiling. So a short story that drags on for 20, 30, 50 pages... it's too 3.5 stars. Short stories, as a genre, tend to be dismal and sombre. I often find myself wishing I'd picked up something cheerful instead. But I read on anyway, because when a short story works, it's a splendid thing! Like blanching vegetables: a good short story is a quick hot dip, followed by a fresh ice bath. A brief experience to heighten the color, texture, and taste of the veg, or the reader's thoughts. Blanching is not boiling. So a short story that drags on for 20, 30, 50 pages... it's too much work for me, especially when the mood is gloomy (I'm looking at you, The Best American Short Stories 2004). Such a book makes me want to drown myself in a tepid tub (fret not: my bathroom has a shower only). Flash Fiction Forward does it right. The stories are actually short, just 1-4 pages each, just enough to get the gist of the situation, feel the emotions, think about the thing for a bit, and go back to my day. I read this book one story at a time: while brushing my teeth, waiting in a parking lot, or while waiting for the dryer to finish. The format is perfect: quick stories in a compact little book. With just a bit more brightness, this would have been 5 stars. The editors get credit for assembling a nice mix of topics, which for the most part were well written. But the overall tone is still depressing, and I would have wished for a bit less of that. A good gut punch is memorable, but a bunch in a row is just tedious. Life is not all sad, folks! Gems: * Jumper Down by Don Shea * The Voices in My Head by Jack Handey * To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder by Ander Monson * Three Soldiers by Bruce Holland Rogers (reminiscent of Wolfgang Borchert) Waste of Time: * The Cats in the Prison Recreation Hall by Lydia Davis * Bill by Dan Kaplan * Mr. Nikos Nikou by Ersi Sotiropoulos * The Death of the Short Story by J. David Stevens Most Memorable Opening Sentence: "An orange ruled the world." (The Orange by Benjamin Rosenbaum). Oh boy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matt Sautman

    As a flash fiction collection, this anthology is a nice blend of humor and stark observation. Although I prefer both Hint Fiction and Varieties of Disturbance over this collection, there are certainly incredibly vivid moments within this anthology that makes it worth reading. From a living sushi-table and a ceaseless tug-o-war between a thief and an old woman to a person whose job is to talk down suicidal jumpers, there are a wealth of perspectives to be found here, even if one doesn't necessari As a flash fiction collection, this anthology is a nice blend of humor and stark observation. Although I prefer both Hint Fiction and Varieties of Disturbance over this collection, there are certainly incredibly vivid moments within this anthology that makes it worth reading. From a living sushi-table and a ceaseless tug-o-war between a thief and an old woman to a person whose job is to talk down suicidal jumpers, there are a wealth of perspectives to be found here, even if one doesn't necessarily want to read this book in its entirety.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marin

    A lot of these stories were not memorable or just downright gimmicky. However, there were some that were really incredible- The doctor The bakers helper The Barbie birthday Currents Traditional Style Indian Garage Bullhead That could have been you Map of the lost world Initials etched on a dining-room table The above are the ones I found not only great but also memorable. There are surely a few more worthy of recognition. However there were also plenty that were total misfires. As a collection it c A lot of these stories were not memorable or just downright gimmicky. However, there were some that were really incredible- The doctor The bakers helper The Barbie birthday Currents Traditional Style Indian Garage Bullhead That could have been you Map of the lost world Initials etched on a dining-room table The above are the ones I found not only great but also memorable. There are surely a few more worthy of recognition. However there were also plenty that were total misfires. As a collection it comes across extremely, as I said, gimmicky.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This has to be one of the worst collections of flash fiction ever. I think the editors were under a deadline (or just had bills to pay) and so they took the first 80 stories they had submitted. Unfortunately, they are about 70 stories really bad, 8 stories just ok and maybe (and I do mean maybe) 2 stories worth reading. I received this book as a gift and I know it was bought used. Thank goodness. I would hate to think anyone paid good money for this dreck.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    I'm a fan of stripped back prose; let the reader think for themselves, rather than spoon-feed every minute detail. That's why I'm big on short stories, and why flash fiction is even better. There's no time to fuck around - get in, say what you want to say, and get out. This collection is some great, some good, some meh, but every story is under 750 words so if you don't like it it's over quickly! I'm a fan of stripped back prose; let the reader think for themselves, rather than spoon-feed every minute detail. That's why I'm big on short stories, and why flash fiction is even better. There's no time to fuck around - get in, say what you want to say, and get out. This collection is some great, some good, some meh, but every story is under 750 words so if you don't like it it's over quickly!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Renée

    Some of these stories were absolutely amazing- I particularly enjoyed The Orange, Quill, Three Soldiers, Traveling Alone, The Death of A Short Story, and Fruit Series. However, a lot of the other stories were quite similar. The endings tend to get repetitive if you read the book straight through, like I did.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I hadn't read much flash fiction before this collection, so it was nice to get a wide variety to try out. I enjoyed them! Some of them managed to capture a huge!! amount of emotion in only a few pages, and others used really innovative forms (e.g. "Test"). My favorites were "Jumper Down," "Traditional Style Indian Garage," "Parrot Talk," "I Didn't Do That," "Accident," "Initials Etched on a Dining-Room Table, Lockeport, Nova Scotia," and "Diagnostic Drift." I hadn't read much flash fiction before this collection, so it was nice to get a wide variety to try out. I enjoyed them! Some of them managed to capture a huge!! amount of emotion in only a few pages, and others used really innovative forms (e.g. "Test"). My favorites were "Jumper Down," "Traditional Style Indian Garage," "Parrot Talk," "I Didn't Do That," "Accident," "Initials Etched on a Dining-Room Table, Lockeport, Nova Scotia," and "Diagnostic Drift."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I really enjoyed this book and it makes me want to write more. Of course some stories resonated with me more than others, but I imagine almost any reader could find a story or two in here that will stick with them. Good read, well done.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ktbird

    Hugely enjoyed these short, shorts, sudden fiction, flashes ... however they are called. Each one stays with you much longer than you would expect given their length. Words have real value, and the impressions are powerful.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    It was an anthology so there were some I loved and some I just didn't understand why it was written. But that is the beauty of anthologies. Flash Fiction is a very interesting genre of writing that I think I would like to explore more but perhaps just particular authors. It was an anthology so there were some I loved and some I just didn't understand why it was written. But that is the beauty of anthologies. Flash Fiction is a very interesting genre of writing that I think I would like to explore more but perhaps just particular authors.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joe Lyons

    There is nothing wrong with this book. Some of the stories are great, and some leave me head scratching. I just don't like flash fiction. There is nothing wrong with this book. Some of the stories are great, and some leave me head scratching. I just don't like flash fiction.

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