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

4.1 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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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: 5.6 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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This book is full of short-short stories, or what the editor calls "sudden fiction." Each piece is a little longer than flash fiction, but shorter than a typical short story. There is a lot of variety in topic, and some pieces would be considered literary fiction, while others are firmly genre stories. A great collection of stories that can each be read in 5 or 10 minutes!
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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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A great collection of flash-fiction stories! This was recommended to me by my grad school program (for creative writing) and is now one I will be recommending to others. Very enjoyable and diverse stories!
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Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed flash fiction for a long while now, but it has been more than awhile since I've visited the form.

This was an excellent collection to dive back in with, as most every story hit me in some way.

The preface discusses how this length and form just seems to "work," as many shorter stories can feel too incomplete or ambiguous, and longer works can start to get bogged down. However, this length of story packs a hell of a punch, and many of these stories are perfect examples of that punch.

What I liked best, though, is the range of when these were written. I had originally assumed that all were recent stories. However, upon checking out the contributor's notes, I saw how many had copyright dates decades ago. I never would have guessed. These writer's have all done what we should strive to: they touch on something that resonates throughout the years and contexts.

That, to me, makes this more than worth the read, and--even more--makes this collection one to study, if you want to learn the short form.
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