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New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories from America and Beyond Paperback – January 17, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It’s a test of the reader’s ability to fly.” (Charles Baxter)

“It can do in a page what a novel does in two hundred.” (Mark Strand)

About the Author

Robert Shapard directed the University of Hawaii MFA program and now lives in Austin, Texas.

James Thomas has received two NEA grants and a Stegner Fellowship; he lives in Xenia, Ohio.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Paperback Edition edition (January 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328011
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard K. Weems on October 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
The original Sudden Fiction anthology was something of a literary groundbreaker as well as the start of a franchise--Robert Shapard and James Thomas could be credited with giving sudden (aka flash, aka micro, aka short short) fiction a formal stage so that the genre could (and did) become acceptable in all kinds of venues where it had not been considered legitimate before. Obviously, Raymond Carver's seminal collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (the one edited by Gordon Lish, who of course wanted to take full credit for the form in the first Sudden Fiction anthology) may have been among the first collections to qualify the boundaries of short fiction into the realm of a page or two, but Shapard & Thomas' first Sudden Fiction anthology was possibly the first popular proof that this short form was just as competent as the longer short story form and could be tackled by writers just as competent as Carver.

From there, Shapard & Thomas sparked the Sudden Fiction anthology series and even did spots of the Flash Fiction anthology series, together or separately. This volume is the most recent installment, and it follows the method of the others--stories that tend to fall in the range of 2,000 words or lower, and familiar names (Tobias Wolff, Sam Shephard, Joyce Carol Oates, etc.) standing next to names that are not as familiar, due either to neglect in the whorls of the literary administration or to the general low quality of their work.

Of course, any anthology is going to have its hits and misses, and this one is no exception. Aimee Bender is a nice turn in the road, since all the stories before hers seem to have a definite realist tendency, and hers is the first to explore the realm of the surreal, and does so quite powerfully.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Woodward on March 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This compilation is a great effort at both defining "sudden fiction" by example and at displaying the broad scope of the work that's out there, including pieces from all over the globe. The work, according to the editors, was collected over a set period in the early 00's from what has been getting published in journals and magazines around the world. In that regard, this collection truly succeeds in capturing what the current flavor/definition is for the short-short story (not to be confused with "flash fiction," which is even shorter) (and collected in a different companion book by the same publisher) (I also admittedly plan to read it eventually) and ensures that there won't be (m)any repeats in here from other anthologies you may have read.

What is slightly disappointing about this collection is that the quality (for this reviewer) is a bit uneven. While all the stories are of rather similar lengths (3 to 5 pages for the most part), some simply go nowhere, reflecting on a moment or character in detail and arriving at very little in the way of stimulating conclusions. Others, such as Tobias Wolfe's or Sam Shepard's (two of the best in the bunch), nicely portray real conflicts, draw very real characters, and maintain forceful narratives throughout, with endings that satisfy.

If you enjoy short fiction, this is certainly worth reading, then perhaps selling back if you find only a little that you like (I'll probably keep my copy, as I think I like the parts I like enough to want to read them again later on). If you're trying to get into what's going on in contemporary short(-short) fiction, there is no better place to start. Author bios in the back will give you other book titles and such as launching points for further reading as well.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Julee Rudolf VINE VOICE on March 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Short attention span? This collection of sixty ultra-short stories, averaging five pages in length, provides readers a great chance to check out a wide variety of writing styles and themes with a minimal time investment. It can best be described as - eclectic: stories are bizarre, familial, philosophical, depressing, nostalgic, unexpected, creepy...and on and on. They are written both by popular, familiar, famous authors as well as obscure, minimally published, or up-and-coming types, foreign and domestic. With stories created by sixty different writers, readers are likely to dislike a few, but the overall reading experience will just as likely be a good one. This short-short story collection is engaging, thought-provoking and unique - a great read, especially for lovers of the short story genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Book-loving mom on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this for my 18 year old son for school. He said to me (with surprise in his voice), "The stories in this book are actually really interesting!" I read part of one - it was quite good. If an 18 year old boy likes it, that's quite a recommendation. Granted, my sons all like to read, when they're not plugged into a screen - but required reading is not usually considered all that fascinating by high school boys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hunkstrum on March 30, 2012
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There are some redeeming tales, but mostly uninspired, poorly edited, and in far too many instances, poorly written. If you've not read flash fiction before, this isnt representative of a quality compilation.
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Format: Paperback
Marvelous collection of an emerging sub-genre: the new sudden fiction - label given by the editors themselves, Robert Shapard and James Thomas, who decided to split the new genre, the short-short story, "using Solomon's wisdom", into two sub-genres: the new sudden fiction and the flash fiction. Terrific short-shorts. I pinpoint, in order for future readers not to skip, "The Red Fox Fur Coat" by Teolinda Gersão. Great story and amazing translation by Margaret Jull Costa. I have credits to say that because I am a Portuguese speaker. Enjoy the reading.
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