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Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories Paperback – July 17, 1992

4.2 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this collection of 72 previously published stories--none longer than 750 words--Raymond Carver, Luisa Valenzuela, Margaret Atwood and John Updike mingle with talented lesser knowns to form a marvelously varied bouquet. Bruce Holland Rogers describes a man who pours his unrequited love into a poem comparing his beloved's thunderously exhilarating effect on him to ``the Burlington Northern southbound out of Fort Collins.'' In Julia Alvarez's tale, set during the Cuban missile crisis, a young immigrant girl panics when she spots deadly fallout--until she learns it is snow, each flake unique, like a person. A man looking at an old photo of his parents sees not the second of promise captured on paper but the tragic consequences 20 years in the future, in Paul Lisicky's work. And Allan Gurganus's narrator shows that ``despite persistent rumors to the contrary, my grandfather did not die driving a Toyota across his pond'' in an attempt to prove the excellence of this car, for which he had conceived a bizarre passion. Savor this collection one minute at a time. James Thomas and Denise Thomas edit The Best of the West series; Hazuka is fiction editor of Quarterly West .

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“In just a little more time than it will take you to read this paragraph you can sample any one of the seventy-two very short stories in this anthology of brilliant miniatures. Some of the selections have already become so-called 'modern classics,' while many others deserve to become much more widely known. You can space out your reading of these epiphanic delicacies over a week or even months. Dear Browswer, I have to confess, I gobbled them up in a day!” (Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio)

Flash Fiction is fun. I loved the variety and surprise of these stories. They should spark great dinner conversation, class discussion, and perhaps inspire some marathon writers to sprint and see what happens.” (Jerome Stern, author of Making Shapely Fiction)

Flash Fiction is purely and simply a delight. Lots of stars are mustered here, but best of all for my money are the newer names and voices that speak well to and for the future.” (George Garrett, Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing, University of Virginia)
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (July 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393308839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393308839
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was introduced to the genre of short shorts in graduate school and have used them in my classes and enjoyed them at home ever since. The Sudden Fiction anthologies are very good, but this is by far my favorite. My students are sometimes frustrated by the postmodern nature of the short short--they want answers. But after a while, they too are caught up in the excitement that these stories create. Stories such as "I Get Smart," "Snow" and "The One Sitting There" make this purchase more than worth the money.
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Format: Paperback
I've had a copy of this book for years. It's dog-eared, and it's traveled with me when I've gone on trips. The book contains many stories, of varying styles and topics, from many different authors. Because of the brevity of the stories, they take on an odd character, somewhere between stories and poetry, though they are all in prose form. Some, like the beautiful first story "Brilliant Silence," describes the events of many years within two small pages. Others, such as "Gold Coast," captures a small but significant moment in people's lives. There are even some that tell about someone's life through a list. Many of the stories are unusual, and because they are so short, they can be used to fill small moments (such as when waiting for a bus,) or you can take thw whole book, choosing stories to read on a lazy afternoon. I've found myself picking up the book over and over again, and when I've lent it to friends, they've always found at least a few stories that they've enjoyed.For anyone, especially those who are buy but are searching for stories that are touching, funny, realistic, whimsical . . . well, whatever the taste, really, I strongly recommend this book. Also, because of the varied styles, I might even recommend this to student who are studying writing or literature.Happy Reading. :)
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This book has a selection of 1-2 page stories which are incredible as they develop such incredibly complex story lines in such little space. I have enjoyed this book for decades. I have read the stories "The Stones" and the Dancing Bears story to groups of people at campouts and they have loved them. This is a great collection of really short stories!
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This book is quite useful in the classroom to review and to develop reading comprehension skills. Each story can be used to check the various short story parts, figerative language, and understanding. The stories allow a teacher an excellent tool to aid the curriculum. The stories are of high interest and appeal to the slower reader, as well as the better reader. There are a variety of stories which allow the teacher to select the ones wanted. This book is a solid contribution to reading in the classroom.
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Format: Paperback
Blink and you've missed it. Don't blink.
Here is what you will see while your eye remains open, in a quick instant of bright color and imagined sound, or sweet fragrance, just sensed before it is gone, or sudden stink, or a momentary sensation across your skin, like the tickle of a feather, or the flavor of something, something, you can't quite place what, on your tongue that reminds of you someplace, someplace, you've been a very long time ago:
"The Burlington Northern, Southbound" by Bruce Holland Rogers...who writes a poem to Christine about the exhiliration of catching a moving train, wind, banged up knee, rhythm, blood rush, and compares it to how he feels about her, and waits for her answer...
"Subtotals" by Gregory Burnham... list of totals that comprise a life, nothing but a list, nothing but totals...number of refrigerators I've lived with, 18... number of gray hairs, 4... number of times wished I was dead, 2... number of light bulbs changed, 273... number of times born again, 0... number of times I forgot what I was going to say, 631...
"Space" by Mark Strand... a beautiful woman stands at the roof-edge of a highrise building, teetering, readying... and a man on the roof of the next building calls out to her... he calls out hope, a dinner proposal, a promise of better days, a marriage proposal... to this woman he does not know, the wind blowing strands of her dark hair across her lovely face... as he contemplates that space, that space between, him, her, the pavement, life, death...
Don't blink. There are 72 of these instant technicolor visions before you can blink again.
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Format: Paperback
A good story, long or short, is one that stays with you. Of the 72 entries here, only 14 are memorable: Brilliant Silence, The Stones, Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye, Feeding the Hungry, Grace Period, Vines, A Continuity of Parks, The Nicest Kid in the Universe, A Moment in the Sun Field, Corners, Snapshot, Harvey Cedars: 1948, Offerings, A Chronicler's Sin, and Here's Another Ending. The rest range from mostly bad and pointless to kind of interesting when considered on a more technical level, like a college writing assignment to do a piece without punctuation, or stream-of-consciousness. The List and August Evening fall in this latter category.
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The stories in flash fiction read as though their diminutive size came naturally; these are stories that were printed without regard to their size but have been reprinted because of their size. Unfortunately, many of the stories would be more satisfying within a mix of story sizes ... the stories are simply shorter than one's mind switches between stories. The anthology is a standard mix of stories that have strong appeal, are technically fine but "don't speak to me", and those you wonder why they were printed. Personal favorites:
The Corporal by Carolyn Forche, I first read as a prose poem. This story speaks strongly to the mentality behind repressive governments - a theme strong in much of Forche's work.
Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is a story that shows the creativity of Kincaid (best illustrated by At the Bottom of the River) that speaks in an unusual way to the relationship between a girl and her mother ... and her mother's expectations.
Bread by Margaret Atwood may not exactly be a narrative but again it is a strong piece regarding social justice in a variety of forms.
Subtotals by Gregory Burnham is an interesting evaluation of life by enumeration - a clever idea well executed that left me less than satisfied.
The Haircut by Mary Morris is a story in which non-verbal communication in an intimate relationship is well used; still I found the story only interesting.
Spencer Holst's Brilliant Silence is a brilliant story of dancing bears deserted by their owner but still dancing.
Richard Shelton's The Stones is another brilliant story built on a premise of stones having life of a sort.
Adrienne Clasky's From the Floodlands explores a setting so wet that one can drown in the air, that the sky and the sea merge as the horozin fails to delinate the line between them.
Other tales may catch your attention; there is sufficient variety that nearly everyone should fine some stories to their liking.
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