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Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories

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Here are 70 of the very best short-short stories of recent years, including contributions from such contemporary writers as Raymond Carver, Leonard Michaels and John Updike; a few modern masters such as Hemingway and Cheever; and an assortment of talented new young writers. Sudden Fiction brilliantly captures the tremendous popularity of this new and distinctly American fo Here are 70 of the very best short-short stories of recent years, including contributions from such contemporary writers as Raymond Carver, Leonard Michaels and John Updike; a few modern masters such as Hemingway and Cheever; and an assortment of talented new young writers. Sudden Fiction brilliantly captures the tremendous popularity of this new and distinctly American form.


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Here are 70 of the very best short-short stories of recent years, including contributions from such contemporary writers as Raymond Carver, Leonard Michaels and John Updike; a few modern masters such as Hemingway and Cheever; and an assortment of talented new young writers. Sudden Fiction brilliantly captures the tremendous popularity of this new and distinctly American fo Here are 70 of the very best short-short stories of recent years, including contributions from such contemporary writers as Raymond Carver, Leonard Michaels and John Updike; a few modern masters such as Hemingway and Cheever; and an assortment of talented new young writers. Sudden Fiction brilliantly captures the tremendous popularity of this new and distinctly American form.

30 review for Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Sudden Fiction - 70 American short-story stories collected here (each from 1 to 4 pages) along with reflections by many outstanding American authors on the meaning and practice of writing what some call skippers, snappers, blasters, flash fiction or simply very short stories. For me, reading each work was like a flash of lightning. To serve as incentive to pick up this collection, below are a batch of blaster beginnings: A SUDDEN STORY by Robert Coover Once upon a time, suddenly, while it still c Sudden Fiction - 70 American short-story stories collected here (each from 1 to 4 pages) along with reflections by many outstanding American authors on the meaning and practice of writing what some call skippers, snappers, blasters, flash fiction or simply very short stories. For me, reading each work was like a flash of lightning. To serve as incentive to pick up this collection, below are a batch of blaster beginnings: A SUDDEN STORY by Robert Coover Once upon a time, suddenly, while it still could, the story began. For the hero, setting forth, there was of course nothing sudden about it, neither about the setting forth, which he'd spent his entire lifetime anticipating, nor about any conceivable endings, which seemed, like the horizon, to be always somewhere else. Robert Coover, born 1932 MOTHER by Grace Paley One day I was listening to the AM radio. I heard a song: "Oh, I Long to See My Mother in the Doorway." By God! I said. I understand that song. I have often longed to see my mother in the doorway. As a matter of fact, she did stand frequently in various doorways looking at me. She stood one day, just so, at the front door, the darkness of the hallway behind her. It was New Year's Day. She said sadly, If you come home at 4 A.M. when you're seventeen, what time will you come home when you're twenty? She asked this question without humor or meanness. She had begun her worried preparations for death. She would not be present, she thought, when I was twenty. So she wondered. Grace Paley, 1922-2007 MOVING PICTURES by Charles Johnson You sit in the Neptune Theatre waiting for the thin, overhead lights to dim with a sense of respect, perhaps even reverence, for American movie houses are, as everyone knows, the new cathedrals, their stories better remembered than legends, totems, or mythologies, their directors more popular than novelists, more influential than saints - enough people, you've been told, have seen the James Bond adventures to fill the entire country of Argentina. Perhaps you have written this movie. Perhaps not. Regardless, you come to it as everyone does, as a seeker groping in the darkness for light, hoping something magical will be beamed from above, and no matter how bad this matinee is, or silly, something deep and maybe even too dangerous to talk loudly about will indeed happen to you and the others before this drama reels to its last transparent frame. Charles Johnson, born 1948 THE VISITATION by Tom Whalen No one knows what they are about or, for that matter, where they came from. Not even the mayor knows. Do you know where they come from? we ask. No, he says, but our census is working on it. Today the deities (they told us they are gods) burned down Durango's Drugs. I hear something clambering on the roof, walk outside barefoot onto the lawn, and shine my flashlight upon the east side's apex where three of them sit on their haunches peeling off shingles and sailing them into the neighbor's yards. Stop that! I shout. They turn their faces languorously toward mine, stare for a minute or more, then flip three shingles at my forehead. I duck, crawl back into the house, make myself a pot of tea. Tom Whalen, born 1948 TWIRLER by Jane Martin [A young woman stands center stage. She is dressed in a spangled, one-piece swimsuit, the kind for baton twirlers. She holds a shining silver baton in her hand.] I started when I was six. Momma sawed off a broom handle, and Uncle Carbo slapped some sort of silver paint, well, gray, really, on it and I went down in the basement and twirled. Later on Momma hit the daily double on horses named Spin Dry and Silver Revolver and she said that was a sign so she gave me lessons at the Dainty Deb Dance Studio, where the lady, Miss Aurelia, taught some twirling on the side. Jane Martin, born 1951, is the pen name of a playwright whose real identity remains unknown DINNER TIME by Russell Edson An old man sitting at a table was waiting for his wife to serve dinner. He heard her beating a pot that had burned her. He hated the sound of a pot when it was beaten, for it advertised its pain in such a way that made him wish to inflict more of the same. And he began to punch at his own face, and his knuckles were red. How he hated red knuckles, that blaring color, more self-important than the wound. Russell Edson, 1935-2014 READING THE PAPER by Ron Carlson All I want to do is read the paper, but I've got to do the wash first. There's blood all over everything. Duke and the rest of the family except me and Timmy were killed last night by a drunk driver, run over in a movie line, and this blood is not easy to get out. Ron Carlson, born 1947 NO ONE'S A MYSTERY by Elizabeth Tallent For my eighteenth birthday Jack gave me a five-year diary with a latch and a little key, light as a dime. I was sitting beside him scratching at the lock, which didn't seem to want to work, when he thought he saw his wife's Cadillac in the distance, coming toward us. He pushed me down onto the dirty floor of the pickup and kept one hand on my head while I inhaled the musk of his cigarettes in the dashboard ashtray and sang along with Rosanne Cash on the tape deck. Elizabeth Tallent, born 1954 THE HIT MAN by T. Coraghessan Boyle Early Years The Hit Man's early years are complicated by the black bag that he wears over his head. Teachers correct his pronunciation, the coach criticizes his attitude, the principal dresses him down for branding preschoolers with a lit cigarette. He is a poor student. At lunch he sits alone, feeding bell peppers and salami into the dark slot of his mouth. In the hallways, wiry young athletes snatch at the black hood and slap the back of his head. When he is thirteen he is approached by the captain of the football team, who pins him down and attempts to remove the hood. The Hit Man wastes him. Five years, says the judge. Back on the Street The Hit Man is back on the street in two months. First Date The girl's name is Cynthia. The Hit Man pulls up in front of her apartment in his father's hearse. (The Hit Man's father, whom he loathes and abominates, is a mortician. At breakfast the Hit Man's father had slapped the cornflakes from his son's bowl. The son threatened to waste his father. He did not, restrained no doubt by considerations of filial loyalty and the deep-seated taboos against patricice that permeate the universal unconscious.) Cynthia's father has silver sideburns and plays tennis. He responds to the Hit Man's knock, expresses surprise at the Hit Man's appearance. The Hit Man takes Cynthia by the elbow, presses a twenty into her father's palm, and disappears into the night. T. Coraghessan Boyle, born 1948

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Perhaps you have seen Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. If so, you will doubtless recall the scene in which Indiana Jones shoots the Mysterious Black Swordsman dead in two seconds instead of engaging in a protracted fight scene. And yet, despite the lack of drama, despite the fact that you don't see Indiana Jones defeat his foe with a cunning combination of bull whip, acrobatics, and fisticuffs, there's no doubt in your that he could do so, and that the reason he shoots him is becau Perhaps you have seen Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. If so, you will doubtless recall the scene in which Indiana Jones shoots the Mysterious Black Swordsman dead in two seconds instead of engaging in a protracted fight scene. And yet, despite the lack of drama, despite the fact that you don't see Indiana Jones defeat his foe with a cunning combination of bull whip, acrobatics, and fisticuffs, there's no doubt in your that he could do so, and that the reason he shoots him is because he's just that much smarter than every other action hero who's been in the same situation. This book is Indiana Jones.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    This is the anthology that I read in college that has the story about the newlyweds and the neighbor and the birds! (The Quail by Rolf Yngve). I'm so freaking glad I remembered this, it was driving me insane.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Dodd (Creaney)

    Tiresome. I have a feeling that if I studied this for A level I would have loved it. I did not love it, far from it. I barely understood most of the stories. I think they probably need time to digest, discuss and mull over if you can be arsed. I really couldn't be arsed. However, if I was 18 again and took that time I would perhaps find them profund and interesting. I've proably failed at life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Howells

    This collection is worth a look if only for the fact that it’s the first collection of “Flash Fiction” released to the public, before the term “Flash Fiction” came to describe these ultra short stories (all are between 500 and 1,500 words). In terms of the 70 stories, there are a lot of hits and a lot of misses, but that iss to be expected in a genre attempting to get its wings. Some really good ones are: • “Even Greenland” by Barry Hannah • “Reunion” by John Cheever • “Sunday in the Park” by Bel K This collection is worth a look if only for the fact that it’s the first collection of “Flash Fiction” released to the public, before the term “Flash Fiction” came to describe these ultra short stories (all are between 500 and 1,500 words). In terms of the 70 stories, there are a lot of hits and a lot of misses, but that iss to be expected in a genre attempting to get its wings. Some really good ones are: • “Even Greenland” by Barry Hannah • “Reunion” by John Cheever • “Sunday in the Park” by Bel Kaufman • “A Fable” by Robert Fox • “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes • “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver • “The Hit Man” by T. C. Boyle • “I See You Never” by Ray Bradbury • “The Bank Robbery” by Stephen Schutzman • “Tent Worms” by Tennessee Williams • “Sitting” by H. E. Francis • “Sunday at the Zoo” by Stuart Dybek • “Noel” by Michael Plemmons • “The Personal Touch” by Chet Williamson • “The Visitation” by Tom Whalen • “Tickits” by Paul Milenski • “Any Minute Mom Should Come Blasting Through the Door” by David Ordan • “Sleepy Time Gal” by Gary Gildner • “A Lost Grave” by Bernard Malamud All of the stories are simply snapshots: a few characters, a vague setting, no sense of resolution. Because of this, I find that they tend to stick in my mind better than much longer stories. More than a couple of the ones I listed above have already been re-read several times because of the magic they exude. Authors here are able to be explicit while being implicit, and this paradox works wonders. Read “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver and try not to cringe, even though the story is overwhelmingly vague. Also worth a look is the extensive index of the author comments on this burgeoning form. The book took me a little longer than usual, which is odd considering the stories are so short. Unfortunately, the more boring stories tend to arrive in a string, but from a literary standpoint, none are worth skipping. Also, the really good stories force you to slow down, take your time, and savor what little is there.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kent

    Excellent! A fun end of the year read when I'm hopelessly scatter-brained anyway. Small snorts of literary genius. Little bursts of clear white light burning through the fog. Everyone should keep one of these on their shitter.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    I wrote a paper on this when I was in high school. After that I tried writing Sudden Fiction of my own. I'm still writing it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    this is an excellent book. teaching from it in the spring. ideal for our a.d.d. world. there's a brilliant updike story in here and normally i hate updike. and it's NOT "a&p" this is an excellent book. teaching from it in the spring. ideal for our a.d.d. world. there's a brilliant updike story in here and normally i hate updike. and it's NOT "a&p"

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter Colclasure

    The vast majority of these stories were bland, poorly written, and unmemorable. There were a few hidden gems however.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jean Carlton

    7o stories in little over 200 pages tell you that they are indeed "short shorts," some just one page. Word count around 1500 pages maximum, reliant on situation and/or tone and the importance of a turn or twist at the end. I found some very interesting/fun/thought-provoking but many left me perplexed (the goal I guess) I conclude that they must be both fun and difficult to write and I am determined to experiment with the form myself. I especially liked the Afterwords section which includes discus 7o stories in little over 200 pages tell you that they are indeed "short shorts," some just one page. Word count around 1500 pages maximum, reliant on situation and/or tone and the importance of a turn or twist at the end. I found some very interesting/fun/thought-provoking but many left me perplexed (the goal I guess) I conclude that they must be both fun and difficult to write and I am determined to experiment with the form myself. I especially liked the Afterwords section which includes discussions titled: The Tradition, Toward a New Form and A Practicum. (One comment found in this section: How far can the values of conciseness and compression be taken without losing "the weight needed for a memorable dramatic statement." I recommend to anyone interested in writing or broadening their view of forms of fiction.

  11. 5 out of 5

    micah

    Another one I read for a university creative writing course. I love the potential of the form, but with the exception of a few gems, most of the selections in this anthology really did not do it for me, nor did I find much value in bits about the form at the end of the book. I couldn't recommend this one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

    There are so few great stories in this collection; it's difficult to recommend. Of those I enjoyed should be of no surprise: Cheever, Updike, Williams, Bradbury, Hemingway. Unfortunately, five out of forty just ain't good enough, regardless of their length.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Hernot

    some good stuff in there.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A new genre (?) for me. I love short stories, but this is so different. It's an artform altogether different from anything I've experienced. Loved it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    The rating is a compromise. The result of my conflicting sense that this is a landmark book that everyone interested in contemporary literature and professional writing should own--and well, the fact that I liked such a small percentage of these stories even a little. On the must-read/own side, at the time this collection was put together (1986) the literary world saw an explosion of short-short fiction. As noted in the introduction, the great majority of these stories had been published within The rating is a compromise. The result of my conflicting sense that this is a landmark book that everyone interested in contemporary literature and professional writing should own--and well, the fact that I liked such a small percentage of these stories even a little. On the must-read/own side, at the time this collection was put together (1986) the literary world saw an explosion of short-short fiction. As noted in the introduction, the great majority of these stories had been published within the last five years. As it happens, only 22 out of the 70 stories here were published before the 1980s, and over half of those were published in the seventies. Thus this collection was part of the whole debate about what are these things and what do we call them? (Ultimately, they've generally been called by a term the editors didn't adopt but mentioned in the Introduction--Flash Fiction--and they're ubiquitous these days on the literary scene.) Does the length by itself call forth a form different in quality than the ordinary short story? The stories in this collection run from less than 300 words to 1,500. Each story is only a few pages that can be read in less than five minutes. The authors include many celebrated literary names such as T. Coraghessan Boyle, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike and Tennessee Williams. The collection consists not only of these stories but nearly 30 pages of an Afterwards by editors and celebrated authors examining the theory and practice and definitions of the short story and particularly the short-short. But then there's that of 70 stories, I liked little more than about one-tenth of them. This says more about my literary tastes (or some might feel, the lack of them) than the job the editors did. This is decidedly contemporary literary fiction. It has that sensibility and style. There is fiction that falls into that category I do love, but so much contemporary literary fiction comes across to me as sterile, pretentious and crass, and that's true of the vast majority of this collection. (Including by the way, Hemingway's contribution, "A Very Short Story," which coming from 1925, is the earliest entry in the anthology. Take a look at its last sentence.) It's as if today's literati would rather die than entertain, move or inspire. Almost all of these are decidedly downbeat and few have a twist, a surprise or a smile in store. The contribution by Ray Bradbury, "I See You Never" is the dullest story by him I've ever read. Yet, mainstream fiction these might be, so many seem gimmicky--see, for instance, "A Questionnaire for Rudolph Gordon." I can however, name 8 stories I know I'll remember for a long time. For the record, in the order they appeared: John Cheever, Reunion (1962) - a wonderful character study about a son's experience with his father that reveals so much with just a few telling words. Bel Kaufman, Sunday in the Park (1985) - for something so short and so seemingly trivial (an incident at a sandbox) this manages to have quite a punch. John Updike, Pymgmalion (1981) - the title expresses perfectly the theme of this story about a man shaping his wife to his tastes. Elizabeth Talent, No One's a Mystery (1985) - about the different expectations of a couple about their future--this manages to be cynical and hopeful at once. Mary Robison, Yours (1981) - this does what few contemporary literary stories dare to--turn around and play with your expectations. Langston Hughes, Thank You, M'am (1958) - does something else few contemporary stories dare to--create a memorable character you actually care about. Raymond Carver, Popular Mechanics (1982) - not sure how to characterize this one. Prose poem? Magical realism? But while I wouldn't call it horror exactly, it has the chilling impact of the best in the genre. One of those, like "Pygmalion" I know I won't forget. Ever. Chet Williamson, The Personal Touch (1983) - the humor might be a bit grim--but it's there. I almost laughed out loud at the twist. And it is a twist. So, as a collection of stories, most of which I'd want to read again and again, this fails. Yet it will stay on my bookshelf because I find there's much I've learned--and still could learn--about contemporary literature and writing fiction reading these.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Roman Peregrino

    Never quite realized how page turning these kind of stories could be! Highly recommend.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Spike Gomes

    The collection edited by a creative writing professor of mine in college. I picked up the book back around then, but never got around to reading it until now, over 10 years later. Honestly, I didn't like most of the stories in this collection, as they highlighted just about everything I hate about modern American literature. The high stylistics, devoid of real content. The obfuscate prose that pretends towards the profound. Completely unbelievable depictions of characters and situations that come The collection edited by a creative writing professor of mine in college. I picked up the book back around then, but never got around to reading it until now, over 10 years later. Honestly, I didn't like most of the stories in this collection, as they highlighted just about everything I hate about modern American literature. The high stylistics, devoid of real content. The obfuscate prose that pretends towards the profound. Completely unbelievable depictions of characters and situations that come across as what someone who never worked a blue collar job or lived in flyover country thinks blue collar people who don't live in hip cities think and act like. The stupid petty harping on suburbs and the people that live in them by a bunch of cosmopolitan elitists with English Department sinecures. Honestly, with most of these stories, there's no there, *there*, as Stein's old saw goes. That said, there's some gems there, including some ones that stop and give pause, subtly written, with great nuance. "Roth's Deadman" for example. That said, this collection is about 10% gems, 20% "well, that was good", 20% "meh", and 50% "How the hell are these people famous for being writers?" Not really worth the time and effort. Sorry Professor Shapard, you were a damn good creative writing professor, but honestly, your taste is a bit off.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    I don't know that there's much to say about the story collection, other than it's very complete. There are several classics, by big-name authors: Updike, Carver ('Popular Mechanics' is one of my old faves), Hemingway. Pretty much something for everyone, and you may well find something that you wouldn't normally look for. Ray Bradbury's "I See You Never" is fairly traditional short story-like, and one of my favorites in this collection, but "A Questionnaire for Rudolph Gordon", which cleverly play I don't know that there's much to say about the story collection, other than it's very complete. There are several classics, by big-name authors: Updike, Carver ('Popular Mechanics' is one of my old faves), Hemingway. Pretty much something for everyone, and you may well find something that you wouldn't normally look for. Ray Bradbury's "I See You Never" is fairly traditional short story-like, and one of my favorites in this collection, but "A Questionnaire for Rudolph Gordon", which cleverly played with the childhood and the idea/concept of parents and memory, was not at all like most things called story—it's literally a questionnaire. And then there's "Class Notes", also nontraditional, but I got nothing from it at all. Perhaps my favorite part of this collection is the "Afterwords" that includes discussions on the meaning of the form (whatever you want to call it) and, for that matter, what it actually is. Not least of all, what to call it. I love reading authors' more off-the-cuff writings. Here, these very short analyses (if you can call them that) feel almost like a conversation, not too formal, like they're working it out as they write.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    I found gems in this collection, like Stuart Dybek's "Sunday at the Zoo," which takes barely a page to accomplish craziness, desperation, and hilarity. Raymond Carver's "Popular Mechanics" flares up and chars the imagination in little more than a page and a half. In the Afterwords sections, I also found several insights into the short-short story from Dybek, Tobias Wolff, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Theroux, Russell Banks, Mark Strand, and several others. For example, in one of the Afterwords, Joe Dav I found gems in this collection, like Stuart Dybek's "Sunday at the Zoo," which takes barely a page to accomplish craziness, desperation, and hilarity. Raymond Carver's "Popular Mechanics" flares up and chars the imagination in little more than a page and a half. In the Afterwords sections, I also found several insights into the short-short story from Dybek, Tobias Wolff, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Theroux, Russell Banks, Mark Strand, and several others. For example, in one of the Afterwords, Joe David Bellamy writes, "Compression and concision have always been part of the aesthetic of the American short story form. Some writers, perhaps spurred on by information overload of our time, began to experiment with just how far these values could be pushed without losing the minimum weight needed for a memorable dramatic statement." Fred Chappel writes, "Unease, whether humorous or sad, is the effect the short-short aims at." Charles Baxter: "It's a test of the reader's ability to fly, using minimal materials." Baxter again: "It's not that people don't have attention spans. They just don't believe in the future, and they're tired of information."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Androo

    As with any anthology, there will be some sections that fall flat, while others astound. Sudden Fiction is more astounding than flat, and there are quite a few reasons why you should consider reading this collection: The stories are short-short -- about 1 to 4 pages. You can breeze through ten before bed and feel quite accomplished (though you may want to take a break and digest some of the true zingers in this book). The Afterwords section has blurbs from the authors of the stories trying to defi As with any anthology, there will be some sections that fall flat, while others astound. Sudden Fiction is more astounding than flat, and there are quite a few reasons why you should consider reading this collection: The stories are short-short -- about 1 to 4 pages. You can breeze through ten before bed and feel quite accomplished (though you may want to take a break and digest some of the true zingers in this book). The Afterwords section has blurbs from the authors of the stories trying to define the subgenre of the short-short story and its popularity -- so you may find yourself falling in love with a new way of telling stories. For you aspiring writers out there, short-short fiction is a wonderful way to hone your skills as a writer since it focuses on the essentials of the story (you -must- be economical with your words to convey a story in a page or two). Of course, that means the subgenre brings with it a sort of special difficulty to it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Samir

    I just finished reading a collection of short stories in a book called sudden fiction by a range wide of authors. Such as by Langston Hughes, Robert Kelly, Tobias Wolf and more are included in this book. I like the wide range of short stories in this book and I enjoyed reading each story because it leaves you with a different message but within that message it is the same lesson that each story tells you. I liked the style of writing too because it kept me into the book because it made me feel li I just finished reading a collection of short stories in a book called sudden fiction by a range wide of authors. Such as by Langston Hughes, Robert Kelly, Tobias Wolf and more are included in this book. I like the wide range of short stories in this book and I enjoyed reading each story because it leaves you with a different message but within that message it is the same lesson that each story tells you. I liked the style of writing too because it kept me into the book because it made me feel like I was in the story and watching these events happen. I recommend this book to people who enjoying reading a wide range of short stories and can draw a connection between short stories and life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    matt

    It's amazing how memorable many of these stories are. They are short-shorts, or "microfiction", depending on your preferred terminology. I prefer short-short. Some are so brief they are almost prose poems, while others are as long as 2 pages. Most capture not just an aura of something or someone, but a sense of motion, they reveal just what you'd remember from a more lengthy rendering, but without all the extra words. They're great for before bed after a long day if you're like me and have trouble s It's amazing how memorable many of these stories are. They are short-shorts, or "microfiction", depending on your preferred terminology. I prefer short-short. Some are so brief they are almost prose poems, while others are as long as 2 pages. Most capture not just an aura of something or someone, but a sense of motion, they reveal just what you'd remember from a more lengthy rendering, but without all the extra words. They're great for before bed after a long day if you're like me and have trouble staying awake while reading in bed. They're also great for reading aloud to someone else, and the book can be passed back and forth. This is also great foreplay. Enjoy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    melydia

    The main thing this collection has going for it is its format: each story is no longer than five pages, and most are in the two to three range. It's great for when you don't have a lot of time to read or want to check out new authors without making a huge commitment. You're also more likely to finish the stories, because there's really no point in stopping halfway through. That said, I wasn't too impressed with many of the stories in this anthology. Many of them didn't seem like stories at all: The main thing this collection has going for it is its format: each story is no longer than five pages, and most are in the two to three range. It's great for when you don't have a lot of time to read or want to check out new authors without making a huge commitment. You're also more likely to finish the stories, because there's really no point in stopping halfway through. That said, I wasn't too impressed with many of the stories in this anthology. Many of them didn't seem like stories at all: just random scenes that go nowhere. I like the idea - lots of short stories have trouble with the short part - but they could have worked harder for better stories, rather than bigger names.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    3.5 stars. Some stories were amazing, some fell flat, but overall the collection was solid. I liked being able to completely read something in five minutes, and then mulling it over for ten. Favorites: Even Greenland, The Song on Royal Street, Say Yes, The Moving, Pygmalian, The Bridge, A Very Short Story (proof that I can like Hemingway!), Reading the Paper, Rosary, The Sock, Speed of Light, Moving Pictures, Any Minute Mom Should Come Blasting Through the Door, The Quail, and No One's a Mystery. 3.5 stars. Some stories were amazing, some fell flat, but overall the collection was solid. I liked being able to completely read something in five minutes, and then mulling it over for ten. Favorites: Even Greenland, The Song on Royal Street, Say Yes, The Moving, Pygmalian, The Bridge, A Very Short Story (proof that I can like Hemingway!), Reading the Paper, Rosary, The Sock, Speed of Light, Moving Pictures, Any Minute Mom Should Come Blasting Through the Door, The Quail, and No One's a Mystery. (This looks like a ridiculous number of favorites, but since all the stories are five pages or less, there are a lot of them in the book.)

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    I've always been a bit torn on micro-fiction and my tastes on that reflect my enjoyment of these stories. I still want what I feel is a story. If I don't feel I get that then I don't enjoy the piece very much. Some of these I liked, but some I didn't care for so much. I really didn't care for the afterward section. It was a pretty hefty portion of the book just to be a random, unorganized discussion of people's thoughts on the form. That I cared for even less than the stories I didn't like as we I've always been a bit torn on micro-fiction and my tastes on that reflect my enjoyment of these stories. I still want what I feel is a story. If I don't feel I get that then I don't enjoy the piece very much. Some of these I liked, but some I didn't care for so much. I really didn't care for the afterward section. It was a pretty hefty portion of the book just to be a random, unorganized discussion of people's thoughts on the form. That I cared for even less than the stories I didn't like as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Okay, I finally finished the few remaining short-shorts that I had not read. My top 2 favorites: Thank you, M'am and The Vertical Fields (quite visceral). Others I thoroughly enjoyed: Can-Can, A Walled Garden, Sitting, The Hatchet Man In the Lighthouse, The Personal Touch, Tickits, The Neighbor, Reading the Paper (I laughed out loud at this one.), Moving Pictures, The Signing, The Quail, and Sleepy Time Gal. **(side note: I'm not sure what is more therapeutic: reading or hiking!). Since I am cu Okay, I finally finished the few remaining short-shorts that I had not read. My top 2 favorites: Thank you, M'am and The Vertical Fields (quite visceral). Others I thoroughly enjoyed: Can-Can, A Walled Garden, Sitting, The Hatchet Man In the Lighthouse, The Personal Touch, Tickits, The Neighbor, Reading the Paper (I laughed out loud at this one.), Moving Pictures, The Signing, The Quail, and Sleepy Time Gal. **(side note: I'm not sure what is more therapeutic: reading or hiking!). Since I am currently prescribed bedrest, I suppose reading is it for now.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe Kate Foster

    A surprisingly disappointing book. Except the stories by John Cheever, Bel Kaufman, Langston Hughes, Grace Paley and a couple others, the works selected were singularly lackluster and unmemorable. The main flaw of most stories was that they were written in the style of longer fiction, which seemed clunky and ill-suited for the genre. The book's copyright is 1986, which leads me to believe that flashfiction, as an art form, has evolved considerably in the last 20 years.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    These are perfect stories for breastfeeding--they're readable in 2-7 minutes. And the ends are usually a treat. And when they're not, they make you think about why they're not. At the end, there is interesting soft lit-theory discussion of this form (the "short-short"). It's fun to read because it's written by creative writers rather than lit analysis folk. I liked seeing the diverse ways in which they approached the subject.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lotte

    I enjoy sudden fiction (aka flash fiction, shorts, short-shorts, blasters, etc.) but several people have expressed to me their strong dislike of the genre (I like to pretend they haven't actually read any of it :). This volume is the usual mix of less-than-stellar mixed with memorable stories that will stay with me from only 2 or 3 or 4 pages (Thank You M'am, Popular Mechanics, Dog Life--to name a few).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Some of the individual stories in this book were delightful, but it was exhausting to read a new story every 2 or 3 pages. Just as I was settling down with my new characters, they were gone! I took me 2 years to read this - I had to stop every few stories to regroup and read something with some continuity.

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