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The Best Small Fictions 2015

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It takes many small things to make something big. Fifty-five acclaimed and emerging writersincluding Emma Bolden, Ron Carlson, Kelly Cherry, Stuart Dybek, Blake Kimzey, Roland Leach, Bobbie Ann Mason, Diane Williams, and Hiromi Kawakamihave made the debut of The Best Small Fictions 2015 something significant, something worthwhile, and something necessary. Featuring It takes many small things to make something big. Fifty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Emma Bolden, Ron Carlson, Kelly Cherry, Stuart Dybek, Blake Kimzey, Roland Leach, Bobbie Ann Mason, Diane Williams, and Hiromi Kawakami—have made the debut of The Best Small Fictions 2015 something significant, something worthwhile, and something necessary. Featuring spotlights on Pleiades journal and Michael Martone, this international volume—with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert Olen Butler serving as guest editor and award-winning editor Tara L. Masih as series editor—is a celebration of the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. ................................................. "Whatever one calls them—flash fictions, microfictions, short shorts—the number of outlets where such pieces are published continue to grow along with the interest of readers and writers in the form. The time is right for a Best of the Year anthology." —Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago and Ecstatic Cahoots "These small fictions are small only in length, not in impact. Their minuteness provides a different lens upon life—one that illuminates the telling yet elusive moments that bigger stories often overlook. A different slant on the truth emerges not in spite of their length, but because of it. Short shorts often seem like the quiet stepchild in the fiction family—overshadowed by vociferous novels, not quite dressed in the right attire as conventional short stories. A series celebrating these tiny gems is long overdue." —Grant Faulkner, cofounder of 100 Word Story, author of Fissures "The loud and long message of the seemingly quiet and the definitely short is in ample supply in The Best Small Fictions 2015. From a mother’s fury over misspelled words in Dee Cohen’s ‘By Heart’, to a father’s disintegration in David Mellerick Lynch’s ‘Lunar Deep’, there is pathos, depth, and welcome language-fireworks in these small gems. Chekhov would be proud of how briefly these writers manage to speak on lengthy subjects." —Nuala Ní Chonchúir, author of Miss Emily "The Best Small Fictions 2015 is essential reading for anyone who enjoys not just small fiction, but fiction in general. Don't miss it!" —Robert Swartwood, editor of Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer


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It takes many small things to make something big. Fifty-five acclaimed and emerging writersincluding Emma Bolden, Ron Carlson, Kelly Cherry, Stuart Dybek, Blake Kimzey, Roland Leach, Bobbie Ann Mason, Diane Williams, and Hiromi Kawakamihave made the debut of The Best Small Fictions 2015 something significant, something worthwhile, and something necessary. Featuring It takes many small things to make something big. Fifty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Emma Bolden, Ron Carlson, Kelly Cherry, Stuart Dybek, Blake Kimzey, Roland Leach, Bobbie Ann Mason, Diane Williams, and Hiromi Kawakami—have made the debut of The Best Small Fictions 2015 something significant, something worthwhile, and something necessary. Featuring spotlights on Pleiades journal and Michael Martone, this international volume—with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert Olen Butler serving as guest editor and award-winning editor Tara L. Masih as series editor—is a celebration of the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. ................................................. "Whatever one calls them—flash fictions, microfictions, short shorts—the number of outlets where such pieces are published continue to grow along with the interest of readers and writers in the form. The time is right for a Best of the Year anthology." —Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago and Ecstatic Cahoots "These small fictions are small only in length, not in impact. Their minuteness provides a different lens upon life—one that illuminates the telling yet elusive moments that bigger stories often overlook. A different slant on the truth emerges not in spite of their length, but because of it. Short shorts often seem like the quiet stepchild in the fiction family—overshadowed by vociferous novels, not quite dressed in the right attire as conventional short stories. A series celebrating these tiny gems is long overdue." —Grant Faulkner, cofounder of 100 Word Story, author of Fissures "The loud and long message of the seemingly quiet and the definitely short is in ample supply in The Best Small Fictions 2015. From a mother’s fury over misspelled words in Dee Cohen’s ‘By Heart’, to a father’s disintegration in David Mellerick Lynch’s ‘Lunar Deep’, there is pathos, depth, and welcome language-fireworks in these small gems. Chekhov would be proud of how briefly these writers manage to speak on lengthy subjects." —Nuala Ní Chonchúir, author of Miss Emily "The Best Small Fictions 2015 is essential reading for anyone who enjoys not just small fiction, but fiction in general. Don't miss it!" —Robert Swartwood, editor of Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer

30 review for The Best Small Fictions 2015

  1. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    When I heard Moira Crone speak a couple of weekends ago, in response to a question, she talked of how a novel is a journey, but a short story is about a moment. I'd started this book at the time, so I silently wondered if that meant "small fictions" are about less than a moment. My own belief (and I'm sure I stole it from somewhere) is that the best of (long) short stories live beyond the page, and that's even truer of shorter fiction. Not only have series editor Tara L. Masih, guest editor When I heard Moira Crone speak a couple of weekends ago, in response to a question, she talked of how a novel is a journey, but a short story is about a moment. I'd started this book at the time, so I silently wondered if that meant "small fictions" are about less than a moment. My own belief (and I'm sure I stole it from somewhere) is that the best of (long) short stories live beyond the page, and that's even truer of shorter fiction. Not only have series editor Tara L. Masih, guest editor Robert Olen Butler and their staff done fans of small fictions a great service, rounding up the best of the past year so we don't have to hunt for them in the various journals they originally appeared in, but this inaugural volume will also be a great introduction for the curious. No one person will like every single story and that's a tribute to how varied this collection is. I'm on record in a couple of reviews saying flash fiction sometimes frustrates me: I don't always 'get' it; but that's also true of my relationship with poetry, and in many ways a small-fiction writer is a poet, the writer having to do so much more with less. I guarantee you there will be surprises: I inwardly groaned at the title of "Pistols at Twenty Paces: On the Last Recorded Duel in Hancock County, Mississippi, April 23, 1866", but this piece by Michael Garriga is probably my favorite -- a lesson to not only not judge a piece by its title, but probably not even to judge a short by its label. I received an ARC of this book from the editor. This has not affected my review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Other than occasional stories, this is the first collection of flash or small fiction I have read. And this has been an interesting, exciting, and, in some ways, educational experience. I'm learning that, as in so many other things in life, I have much more to learn about this story form, but I will not let that inhibit my enthusiastic review of this book. When I began reading, I had decided to use post it markers to mark those stories I enjoyed. Well, that didn't work as I quickly realized that Other than occasional stories, this is the first collection of flash or small fiction I have read. And this has been an interesting, exciting, and, in some ways, educational experience. I'm learning that, as in so many other things in life, I have much more to learn about this story form, but I will not let that inhibit my enthusiastic review of this book. When I began reading, I had decided to use post it markers to mark those stories I enjoyed. Well, that didn't work as I quickly realized that I would run through my supply of markers. So I broke my book commandment and wrote in the book. Gasp! I am doing that more lately and feel the eyes of my early teachers scowling at me. But at the same time I believe they would be happy I am so invested in reading as an adult. I found that I enjoyed probably 3/4 of the stories in this book to one degree or another. Some I loved: The Garden Sky stands out in my mind and I will read that many more times. And Pistols at Twenty Paces, that took me back to another place and then left me thinking. What has amazed me is how much can be said so quickly, so economically. I also found that there were a couple of stories that I found difficult and actually off-putting but also had to respect for the skill of their presentation. Wimbledon was one such for me. My primary take away from the world of small fictions is that there will be much disagreement about what is good and what is skilled. These all show skill but they all grab people differently. And they have to grab quickly. How they do it will determine who will enjoy the story. So this is an odd form. I invite everyone I know to give it a try. I believe you will laugh, cry, shudder, become angry or possibly disgusted. All good appropriate human emotions. Honestly earned by these stories. I don't know which will be your favorites, though I'd love to compare notes. I fully intend to check out other works from several of the authors included. There are 55 fictions included, of which I liked 43 to some degree or other. Not bad. Perhaps I am under-rating this book; perhaps a 4.5 is in order. This is where ratings are so difficult. I heartily recommend this collection and also Butler's recommendation to read the stories a few at a time. That seemed to work well for me. I was provided with an ARC through the editor in return for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Here's what some reviewers have said about our small press bestseller: "This is truly a well-selected collection and it has given me a new appreciation for small fiction. The Best Small Fictions 2015 will make you a believer in small fiction as literature."--Joseph Spuckler, Evil Cyclist's Bookshelf "What an astonishing book--how practically every fiction seems a vaster story told in brief." --X.J. Kennedy "With Best Small Fictions 2015 ... [r]eaders will be introduced to a wealth of fresh and Here's what some reviewers have said about our small press bestseller: "This is truly a well-selected collection and it has given me a new appreciation for small fiction. The Best Small Fictions 2015 will make you a believer in small fiction as literature."--Joseph Spuckler, Evil Cyclist's Bookshelf "What an astonishing book--how practically every fiction seems a vaster story told in brief." --X.J. Kennedy "With Best Small Fictions 2015 ... [r]eaders will be introduced to a wealth of fresh and existing talent ... Discover some haunting voices for yourself this fall."--Rebecca Foster, BookTrib "The best of these stories drop us, with a minimum of hand-holding, into moments of human extremity."--Jack Feerick, Popdose "I'll confess: I'm usually not excited by "best of" anthologies. . . . Then along comes The Best Small Fictions 2015, edited by Robert Olen Butler and Tara L. Masih, to change my mind about anthologies."--Kathryn Kulpa, KYSO Flash "[E]ach short short hands over an exquisite example of something finely done."--Bunny Goodjohn, Mom Egg Review

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I'm proud to have served as Consulting Editor for this excellent book. It is a brilliant compilation of "small fictions" from some of the best writers of the form. I plan to use this book as a teaching tool at the Mile-High MFA program at Regis University in Denver. I highly recommend it for all creative writing teachers, workshop leaders, etc. But also this is just a fantastic read. Kudos to Tara Masih, Robert Olen Butler, and all of the contributors!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (Nearly 4.5) In this very strong anthology of flash fiction, stories range from Tweet length to a few pages, but are always under 1,000 words. Titles and first lines carry a lot of weight. One of the best openers is I didnt recognize her without her head (Before She Was a Memory, Emma Bolden). In genre the stories run the gamut from historical fiction to whimsical fantasy a boy who turns into a bear and a dead office employee who keeps showing up for work. Youll be introduced to a wealth of (Nearly 4.5) In this very strong anthology of flash fiction, stories range from Tweet length to a few pages, but are always under 1,000 words. Titles and first lines carry a lot of weight. One of the best openers is “I didn’t recognize her without her head” (“Before She Was a Memory,” Emma Bolden). In genre the stories run the gamut from historical fiction to whimsical fantasy — a boy who turns into a bear and a dead office employee who keeps showing up for work. You’ll be introduced to a wealth of fresh and existing talent. There are literally dozens of stand-outs here, but if I had to choose a top 3, they’d be “A Notice from the Office of Reclamation” by J. Duncan Wiley, “The Lunar Deep” by David Mellerick Lynch, and (overall favorite) “Something Overheard” by Yennie Cheung. (See my full review at BookTrib.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ethel Rohan

    I teach a flash fiction class titled "The Brilliance of Brevity." This excellent and compelling anthology captures just that. At a mere six lines, Stuart Dybek's "Inland Sea" is masterful. Then there's the gritty glory of Leesa Cross-Smith's "All That Smoke Howling Blue." Yennie Cheung's "Something Overheard" is resonant, honest, and rich with twisted expectations. Danielle McLaughlin's "Shaping Air" is so keenly observed it elevates the mundane to the extraordinary. The anthology is studded I teach a flash fiction class titled "The Brilliance of Brevity." This excellent and compelling anthology captures just that. At a mere six lines, Stuart Dybek's "Inland Sea" is masterful. Then there's the gritty glory of Leesa Cross-Smith's "All That Smoke Howling Blue." Yennie Cheung's "Something Overheard" is resonant, honest, and rich with twisted expectations. Danielle McLaughlin's "Shaping Air" is so keenly observed it elevates the mundane to the extraordinary. The anthology is studded with such gems. For writers, this small but mighty book makes for a great study of the craft of Flash Fiction. For readers, it is an invitation to interact with--and savor--bursts of stories created with brevity, specificity, imagination, the art of omission, and humanity.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    Favorites: "Wimbledon" by Seth Brady Tucker, "Scale" by Michael Martone, "Happiest Black White Man Alive" by Dan Gilmore, "You Must Intercept the Blue Box Before It Gets to the City" by Ron Carlson (which is super fun), and most of all, "Something Overheard" by Yennie Chung, which hit me really hard. A lot of power.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kenny Chaffin

    The Best Small Fictions 2015 guest editor Robert Olen Butler series editor Tara L. Masih What a wonderful anthology! What a joy! What fun! Tara L. Masih and her editors are to be congratulated on assembling what to me is a premier annual anthology of flash fiction! There is a breadth and depth here that readers unfamiliar with flash will likely be astonished by. There are quirky, funny, serious and sentimental selections. In other words just about something for everyone. This collection is The Best Small Fictions 2015 guest editor Robert Olen Butler series editor Tara L. Masih What a wonderful anthology! What a joy! What fun! Tara L. Masih and her editors are to be congratulated on assembling what to me is a premier annual anthology of flash fiction! There is a breadth and depth here that readers unfamiliar with flash will likely be astonished by. There are quirky, funny, serious and sentimental selections. In other words just about something for everyone. This collection is comprised of 55 fictions which were selected by Robert Olen Butler from 105 provided to him. The remaining selections are listed in an appendix. The opening story "By Heart" will literally grab you by the heartstrings and set them ringing, playing over and over and isn't that exactly what a good story does, lodges itself inside you reverbrating, ringing, playing over and over in your mind and in your soul? It's all but impossible to pick any one 'best' anything, but for me there were two stories here tied for the top, but immediately followed by others. Those two were: A Dream with the Wind in It by Kelly Cherry and Before She Was a Memory by Emma Bolden. Both incredible stories that will rattle your soul. Another pair of stories here tripped my trigger in a more specific way. I love stories that play with time and space and identity and these two are wonderful: Scarlet Fever by Stefanie Freele and Let's Say by Julia Strayer. On the lighter side were A Notice from the Office of Reclamation by J. Duncan Wiley ( I’m sure I was attracted to its minor resemblance to my own unpublished poem “Notice of Recall”) and Dead Gary by Dan Moreau. I and probably anyone who has ever worked in a modern office knows Dead Gary! Excellent humorous story! My remaining selections of note from my admittedly personal perspective were: Not About Liz by Catherine Moore, a wonderful story with an increadible final sentence! Brisket by Stuart Dybek one of my favorite writers of all time and while I personally might not choose this story of his as his best, it is definitely up there with any of his best flash fictions. Lithopedion by Randall Brown a devastatingly serious fiction addressing a condition which (to my knowledge) is real and can actually happen. Chicken Dance by Misty Shipman Ellingburg an interesting look at a one-night-stand which manages to include American Indian culture, Sherman Alexi, Chicken Dancing and The Way Some Men Are all in 100 words! Something Overheard by Yennie Cheung which takes us into a position we have all been in at one time or another in our lives. El Paso: July by Jeff Streeby a story of life and death and survival in the West Texas landscape. Shaping Air by Danielle McLaughlin a story of hands and balloon animals, love and magic. I loved reading this anthology and I do so hope it continues year after year after year. It is great, it is wonderful, and it is required reading for anyone interested in flash and its amazing ability to distill the length and breadth of fiction as a whole into intense bite-sized pieces that will set your mind and soul ringing. My advice, get it, read it, be enlightened. P.S. (added 11/27/16) - I now must add "Scarlet Fever" by Stefanie Freele as one of my favorites to my review. :) I read another story by Sherrie Flick - The Way You See It (from her first collection - I Call This Flirting) which jumped back and forth in time (something I love when it's done well) and I thought of this story but damned if I could remember its name or author. Took two days to find it (hey but I got to revisit many titles/stories in the process :) ) and I must say this story excels at being in the past and the present/future at once. Wonderful story, wonderful anthology. Looking forward to the next one Come on 2017! :)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    As someone who has dabbled with flash fiction, I recognize the challenges of writing "short short" or microfiction. Every word has to count, for there is absolutely no margin for error, no room for luxury. This collection might more aptly be titled "The Best of the Best..." because it is exactly that. Each story in contention was nominated by a literary magazine or journal, and the guest editor, Robert Olen Butler, made the final selection. Butler says in his introduction, "They are small but As someone who has dabbled with flash fiction, I recognize the challenges of writing "short short" or microfiction. Every word has to count, for there is absolutely no margin for error, no room for luxury. This collection might more aptly be titled "The Best of the Best..." because it is exactly that. Each story in contention was nominated by a literary magazine or journal, and the guest editor, Robert Olen Butler, made the final selection. Butler says in his introduction, "They are small but brimming with our shared human experience." I found the quality of these stories to be uniformly excellent. A few didn't connect with me on a personal level, but even then, I admired the quality of the writing. It's very difficult to pick favorites in a collection like this, so I won't even try. The stories cover a broad range of issues, from the safety of abandoned mine shafts to the irony surrounding a corporate job filled by a long-dead employee. They span the spectrum from light to dark, and the lengths range from a tweet (140 characters) to flash (1,000 words). There is truly something for everyone who likes short fiction: a variety of styles and forms give the collection a subtle rhythm that attests to the skill of the editors. The collection will take its place on my virtual shelves along with its longer cousins in short fiction from George Saunders, Kurt Vonnegut, and E.L. Doctorow. Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the editor.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    We finally have the Kindle reissued!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sheldon Compton

    I like that The Best Small Fictions 2015 is as important as Best American Short Stories 2015. It should be. Who says its as important? I do. I wont go into the number of New Yorker and Atlantic stories that have populated the Best American Short Stories series for the past several decades. That would be almost as boring as reading most of those same stories. Lets be clear the most exciting literature being written today is landing in the small literary journals, mostly online. The day of the I like that The Best Small Fictions 2015 is as important as Best American Short Stories 2015. It should be. Who says it’s as important? I do. I won’t go into the number of New Yorker and Atlantic stories that have populated the Best American Short Stories series for the past several decades. That would be almost as boring as reading most of those same stories. Let’s be clear – the most exciting literature being written today is landing in the small literary journals, mostly online. The day of the 7,500-word suburban angst story has come and gone. That is if you enjoy reading engaging literature. And if you enjoy engaging literature, there is no more important book published in 2015 than The Best Small Fictions 2015 from Queen’s Ferry Press and series editor Tara L. Masih. This first annual anthology was guest edited by Robert Olen Butler, most well-known for his Pulitzer-prize winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. However, I’ve been most impressed with Butler’s short fiction. Any guest editor who can write a book like Severance is certainly qualified. Following a similar format as the Best American series, Best Small Fictions gives us fifty-four stories in full text and then names several finalist stories at the end of the book, citing the author’s name, story title, and journal in which the story was published. I’m glad this is where the similarities end. In Best Small Fictions, there are stories such as Anna Lea Jancewicz’s “Marriage” where the narrator likens marriage to combining ketchup from two half empty bottles to make one full bottle. Anyone who has worked in a small diner or gave every ounce they had to a relationship will find the comparison appropriate. “When she was waiting tables, she used to marry the ketchup bottles. That’s what they called it, marrying.” Jancewicz goes on to lay down her expertly drawn comparison, first published at Matchbook, ending with this beautiful moment: “It’s not like there’s this third bottle. There’s the bottle with the least left to give, upended. And then that bottle is empty, the other gets it all.” Such metaphors are only created with such power in fiction so compact. Another trait running through many of the stories in this anthology are endings that realize that endings can be something other than ambiguous, as in the closing sentences of Catherine Moore’s story “Not About Liz.” Of course, there’s no way I’m going to share that ending with you here. As you should, buy the book and see how Moore can crush your heart in the final seconds of a story, without ambiguity, without mincing words. With total and absolute power. And there’s stories in which so much can be said simply by implying the possibility of certain events as in Julia Strayer’s “Let’s Say,” first published at SmokeLong Quarterly. “Let’s say I’m being robbed, but I choose to believe I’m pushing my daughter on the swings in the park across from the Methodist church, autumn leaves collecting on the grass as the wind blows, and with each push she becomes a year older until she’s my age, but she knows more than I do because that’s how kids are these days.” The entire story is here, in this first long sentence. Strayer goes on to tell us a pitch-perfect story, but the reason it is pitch-perfect is because everything – everything – calls back to that opening sentence. It’s a trait that can be found in the best short fiction today, a skilled ability to open the heart wide without having to spend 7,500 words doing so. Another aspect of the best contemporary fiction available to readers today can be found in the fine ability of the best writers to inject a sense of fabulism into their stories. Sure, George Saunders is doing something close to this in the Big Stuffy publications, but Saunders himself would applaud a story like Dan Moreau’s “Dead Gary,” which at one point reveals to us the impossible in that wonderful way a great story can. “He’d find it out on his own, we figured.” Moreau’s story, originally appearing in Workers Write! More Tales from the Cubicle from Blue Cubicle Press, takes us to the well-worn tale of corporate worker bee spiritual and emotional death in a way completely fresh and original. There’s so many good stories to enjoy in Best Small Fictions, but it’s the overall project that rings most important. This anthology says that stories are here to stay, stories are powerful, stories are magic.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diane Thomas

    Guest editor Robert Olen Butler and series editor Tara Masih's Best Small Fictions 2015 is a delightful and important anthology. For those who know or write flash fiction, those startling and often delightful little stories that range in size from 140-character Tweets to two- or three-page stories edging up to 1,000 words, this book is a must-have. Those unfamiliar with the form will find themselves enlarged and most likely enthralled by it. Some of the stories, like Dan Gilmore's "Happiest Guest editor Robert Olen Butler and series editor Tara Masih's Best Small Fictions 2015 is a delightful and important anthology. For those who know or write flash fiction, those startling and often delightful little stories that range in size from 140-character Tweets to two- or three-page stories edging up to 1,000 words, this book is a must-have. Those unfamiliar with the form will find themselves enlarged and most likely enthralled by it. Some of the stories, like Dan Gilmore's "Happiest Black White Man Alive, have small but classic story arcs. Others, many others, nestle stylistically right next to prose poems. The stories of "Best Small Fictions 2015" are wonderful to read aloud, which is how my spouse and I enjoyed them, or to read in one gulp, or to read singly as refreshments to one's days. But be ye warned, they're as addictive as a bag of fresh, crisp potato chips. Bet you can't read just one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leesa

    LOVED and not just bc my little story is in here. There are lots of little stories in here and lots to love. I love small fictions and having a bunch of small fictions in a book like this is aces. Faves include: "Marriage" by Anna Lea Jancewicz, "For The Wheels To Nullify" by Brent Rydin, "Eat Beetroot" by Jane Swan, "The Third Time My Father Tried To Kill Me" by James Claffey, "It Will Never Be Deep Enough" by Jane Liddle, "At Home With Rapper's Delight" by Chris L. Terry, "Chicken Dance" by LOVED and not just bc my little story is in here. There are lots of little stories in here and lots to love. I love small fictions and having a bunch of small fictions in a book like this is aces. Faves include: "Marriage" by Anna Lea Jancewicz, "For The Wheels To Nullify" by Brent Rydin, "Eat Beetroot" by Jane Swan, "The Third Time My Father Tried To Kill Me" by James Claffey, "It Will Never Be Deep Enough" by Jane Liddle, "At Home With Rapper's Delight" by Chris L. Terry, "Chicken Dance" by Misty Shipman Ellinburg and also, so many of them. Aces! I loved it and am stoked abt getting my hands on a new one of these every year.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    I don't think I've ever seen so much excellent flash fiction in one place. Dee Cohen, Dan Gilmore, Stefanie Freele, and George Choundas wrote some of my favorites.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Literary Mama

    From "Now Reading" by Literary Mama staff: Fiction Editor Suzanne Kamata adds, "I've been happily dipping into the anthology The Best Small Fictions 2015, edited by Tara L. Masih, following guest editor Robert Olen Bulter's recommendation to take my time, reading only 'a few at a sitting.' Although many of these short short stories cover less than a pagethe shortest is a Twitter storythey are all dense with feeling, and packed with potent images. Among my favorites are 'Scarlet Fever' by Literary From "Now Reading" by Literary Mama staff: Fiction Editor Suzanne Kamata adds, "I've been happily dipping into the anthology The Best Small Fictions 2015, edited by Tara L. Masih, following guest editor Robert Olen Bulter's recommendation to take my time, reading only 'a few at a sitting.' Although many of these short short stories cover less than a page―the shortest is a Twitter story―they are all dense with feeling, and packed with potent images. Among my favorites are 'Scarlet Fever' by Literary Mama contributor Stefanie Freele, in which sickness becomes surreal; 'The Intended,' by Dawn Raffel, which captures the weirdness of preemies exhibited in incubators during the World's Fair; Misty Shipman Ellingburg's 100-word 'Chicken Dance,' about a disappointing hook-up with a Native American singer; Bobbie Ann Mason's 'The Canyon Where the Coyotes Live,' which concerns a woman with cats who longs for a child; and best-selling Japanese novelist Hiromi Kawakami's delightfully quirky 'Banana,' introducing the failed entrepreneur Uncle Red Shoes who once managed a factory that manufactured stuffed toy eels, among other things. This is a wonderful beginning to a new series, and the stories are the perfect length for busy mothers." Literary Mama's full Now Reading post can be found here: http://www.literarymama.com/blog/arch...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I followed guest editor Robert Olen Butler's recommendation to take my time, reading only "a few at a sitting." Although many of these short short stories cover less than a page -- the shortest is a Twitter story -- they are all dense with feeling, and packed with potent images. Among my favorites are "Scarlet Fever" by Stefanie Freele, in which sickness becomes surreal; "The Intended," by Dawn Raffel, which captures the weirdness of preemies exhibited in incubators during the World's Fair; I followed guest editor Robert Olen Butler's recommendation to take my time, reading only "a few at a sitting." Although many of these short short stories cover less than a page -- the shortest is a Twitter story -- they are all dense with feeling, and packed with potent images. Among my favorites are "Scarlet Fever" by Stefanie Freele, in which sickness becomes surreal; "The Intended," by Dawn Raffel, which captures the weirdness of preemies exhibited in incubators during the World's Fair; Misty Shipman Ellingburg's 100-word "Chicken Dance," about a disappointing hook-up with a Native American singer; Bobbie Ann Mason's "The Canyon Where the Coyotes Live" which concerns a woman with cats who longs for a child; and best-selling Japanese novelist Hiromi Kawakami's delightfully quirky "Banana," introducing the failed entrepreneur Uncle Red Shoes who once managed a factory that manufactured stuffed toy eels, among other things. This is a wonderful beginning to a new series, and the stories are the perfect length for busy people.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Antonia

    I've always liked short-short fiction (aka flash fiction and many other names). I don't know if another term is really necessary, but the editor has given the form yet another name, "small fictions." Some of the pieces are a little longer than the usual flash. I liked the stories fairly well. As with any collection of this type, there were some that I liked a lot, others less so, a couple not at all. I'd give a few of the individual stories 4 stars for sure, but never felt that any were 5-star I've always liked short-short fiction (aka flash fiction and many other names). I don't know if another term is really necessary, but the editor has given the form yet another name, "small fictions." Some of the pieces are a little longer than the usual flash. I liked the stories fairly well. As with any collection of this type, there were some that I liked a lot, others less so, a couple not at all. I'd give a few of the individual stories 4 stars for sure, but never felt that any were 5-star amazing. Definitely worth a read if you like the form.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I always have trouble giving short story collections a rating. I felt like some of these stories were trying too hard, but I really liked a few of them. Looking back over the TOC, I feel like Dan Gilmore's story about the drummer and the one by Yennie Cheung about the upstairs neighbor will stick with me. Those didn't feel like stories, they felt true.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    A welcome resource for writers and readers of flash and short fiction. Here's a link to my full review, published in KYSO Flash.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    A really fantastic collection of the best of the best in flash out there. I will return to this often for inspiration, and I'm looking forward to the next batch! A much-needed series for sure.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jcken

    Good mix of shorties, let's do another.

  22. 4 out of 5

    A.

    A great collection. Some I loved more than others, but nearly all packed a good punch. These were words carefully chosen.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brian Mcclain

    Great set of micro fiction.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kenny Chaffin

    From my Amazon Review: The Best Small Fictions 2015 guest editor Robert Olen Butler series editor Tara L. Masih What a wonderful anthology! What a joy! What fun! Tara L. Masih and her editors are to be congratulated on assembling what to me is a premier annual anthology of flash fiction! There is a breadth and depth here that readers unfamiliar with flash will likely be astonished by. There are quirky, funny, serious and sentimental selections. In other words just about something for everyone. This From my Amazon Review: The Best Small Fictions 2015 guest editor Robert Olen Butler series editor Tara L. Masih What a wonderful anthology! What a joy! What fun! Tara L. Masih and her editors are to be congratulated on assembling what to me is a premier annual anthology of flash fiction! There is a breadth and depth here that readers unfamiliar with flash will likely be astonished by. There are quirky, funny, serious and sentimental selections. In other words just about something for everyone. This collection is comprised of 55 fictions which were selected by Robert Olen Butler from 105 provided to him. The remaining selections are listed in an appendix. The opening story "By Heart" will literally grab you by the heartstrings and set them ringing, playing over and over and isn't that exactly what a good story does, lodges itself inside you reverberating, ringing, playing over and over in your mind and in your soul? It's all but impossible to pick any one 'best' anything, but for me there were two stories here tied for the top, but immediately followed by others. Those two were: A Dream with the Wind in It by Kelly Cherry and Before She Was a Memory by Emma Bolden. Both incredible stories that will rattle your soul. Another pair of stories here tripped my trigger in a more specific way. I love stories that play with time and space and identity and these two are wonderful: Scarlet Fever by Stefanie Freele and Let's Say by Julia Strayer. On the lighter side were A Notice from the Office of Reclamation by J. Duncan Wiley ( I’m sure I was attracted to its resemblance to my own unpublished poem “Notice of Recall”) and Dead Gary by Dan Moreau. I and probably anyone who has ever worked in a modern office has known Dead Gary! Excellent humorous story! My remaining selections of note from my admittedly personal perspective were: Not About Liz by Catherine Moore, a wonderful story with an increadible final sentence! Brisket by Stuart Dybek one of my favorite writers of all time and while I personally might not choose this story of his as his best, it is definitely up there with any of his best flash fictions. Lithopedion by Randall Brown a devastatingly serious fiction addressing a condition which (to my knowledge) is real and can actually happen. Chicken Dance by Misty Shipman Ellingburg an interesting look at a one-night-stand which manages to include American Indian culture, Sherman Alexi, Chicken Dancing and The Way Some Men Are all in 100 words! Something Overheard by Yennie Cheung which takes us into a position we have all been in at one time or another in our lives. El Paso: July by Jeff Streeby a story of life and death and survival in the West Texas landscape. Shaping Air by Danielle McLaughlin a story of hands and balloon animals, love and magic. I loved reading this anthology and I do so hope it continues year after year after year. It is great, it is wonderful, and it is required reading for anyone interested in flash and its amazing ability to distill the length and breadth of fiction as a whole into intense bite-sized pieces that will set your mind and soul ringing. My advice, get it, read it, be enlightened.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ginni

    Micro-fiction (or "flash fiction") is its own kind of beast, just as difficult in its own way as the novel. Every word counts when a story is only a page long. Done poorly, it's flat and ineffectual. Fortunately, this is a showcase for the genre's standouts, and the stories in this anthology pull no punches. With 50+ stories by an assortment of acclaimed writers, there's plenty of variety. That means there will probably be some that you don't love ("APOCRYPHAL" just left me scratching my head), Micro-fiction (or "flash fiction") is its own kind of beast, just as difficult in its own way as the novel. Every word counts when a story is only a page long. Done poorly, it's flat and ineffectual. Fortunately, this is a showcase for the genre's standouts, and the stories in this anthology pull no punches. With 50+ stories by an assortment of acclaimed writers, there's plenty of variety. That means there will probably be some that you don't love ("APOCRYPHAL" just left me scratching my head), but also plenty that make you gasp and re-read. My favorites: Marriage; Pistols at Twenty Paces; The Boy and the Bear; It Will Never Be Deep Enough. (I received this book for free through a Goodreads giveaway.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A phenomenal collection that took me far too long to read. But now I can get the new one! I marked at least 10 of these to return to and possibly teach if I get the chance, and I'm looking forward to what this series will bring.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Still not sold on the form, but enjoyed much of what was included in this anthology. There are more than a few that feel too slight or disposable for me to really embrace, but some that lingered.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    Most of the stories in this collection were okay in my opinion, with a few hidden gems scattered throughout.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    The Best Small Fictions 2015 is a collection of very short fiction originally published by a variety of publications. I was asked if I would review this book by the series editor Tara L. Masih several weeks ago. I accepted because I like it when I am asked to review something that isn't a vampire apocalypse romance novel. I was not entirely sure what small fiction was about but was told there was prose poetry included. That was good enough for me. I will say I was very surprised with this The Best Small Fictions 2015 is a collection of very short fiction originally published by a variety of publications. I was asked if I would review this book by the series editor Tara L. Masih several weeks ago. I accepted because I like it when I am asked to review something that isn't a vampire apocalypse romance novel. I was not entirely sure what small fiction was about but was told there was prose poetry included. That was good enough for me. I will say I was very surprised with this collection. I usually do not care for short stories because I feel dropped into the middle of a story and pulled out before it's over or before I completely understand what is going on. Small fiction, however, is the matchbox of fiction; no story is more than a few short pages. There is also the feeling of completeness in these shorter stories that are missing from traditional short stories. It is not Cliff Note or the Readers Digest version of a story either. There is a fullness that usually requires many more words. The range of material is very broad along with the style and format. The shortest work is one hundred and forty characters taken from Twitter Fiction. Most stories, though, tend to be a page or two. Almost from the start I was hooked on this collection. J. Duncan Wiley's "A Notice From the Office of Reclamation", a two and a half page warning for those thinking of entering the mine, read in part: Rocks grind their granite teeth over geologic eons, holding their grudges close. You cannot win against them. Your little flame of curiosity, infinitesimal by comparison, will gutter before it illuminates even the shallowest depths of that darkness. You will fall. There is a rhythm and a taunting voice that leaps from the pages and expands the words into something more than simple prose. It reads like a dark fairy tale with enough detail to fill a dream. Some stories capture real-life events and the little embarrassments that join them. Stuart Dybek's "Brisket" is such a story. The trappings of everyday life capture us when we are distracted. "Brisket" is a great story with a moral that even vegetarians like myself can enjoy. Adding to the real life theme, Naomi Telushkin and Dan Gilmore write realistic, timely tales of identity. Not everything is light. Emma Bolden's "Before She was a Memory" touched a very real and dark place in my life. Catherine Moore's "Not About Liz" seems innocent but has a dark and creepy undertone. These works have all been published in various places and collected as a "best of volume" much like David Lehman does with the yearly Best of American Poetry series. The sources range from Twitter, to 100 Word Story, to Black Lawrence Press, and a wide variety of other publications. Also included with this collection is an interview Phong Nguyen of Pleiades and an interview with Michael Martone who has two stories in this collection. This is truly a well-selected collection and has given me a new appreciation for small fiction. The Best Small Fictions 2015 will make you a believer in small fiction as literature.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a compilation of what is known as small fictions and the stories themselves are anywhere from a paragraph to 5 pages in length. Like most short story anthologies, a few of these stories I really enjoyed, but a lot didn't do anything for me. Having said that, it is a really interesting form of writing and some of the stories felt like a snippet from a larger work. I won a copy of this book from the editor as part of the Goodreads Giveaways program.

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