"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." --Isaac Asimov

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book review: The Best Small Fictions 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

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