The eagerly anticipated anthology from the editors who coined the term “Flash,” with stories by today’s best fiction writers.
The first Flash Fiction appeared more than ten years ago; now editors Thomas and Shapard present 80 new pieces. One might ask, "Exactly what is flash fiction?" According to the Editors' Note, they are "very short stories" that depend "not on their length but on their depth, clarity of vision, and human significance." They set a third of a page as a minimum length and 750 words as a maximum for consideration. A few of the authors of these flashes are widely known, such as John Updike and Paul Theroux. Most of the others are not. The 80 works are presented in no particular order, like a camera set to take random shots on a busy city street. The reader has no idea what to expect from one shot to the next. One flash begins with the fanciful, "An orange ruled the world." Another begins with the somber, "Do not go outside." "How to Set a House on Fire" explains how to do just that. "Crazy Glue" tells of a wife who reclaims her cheating husband by gluing every piece of furniture in their home in place, and gluing herself to the ceiling. There are some gems here. For example, "Fab 4" recalls the first appearance of the Beatles on American television. "That Could Have Been You" suggests the optimism of youth. "The Good Life" recalls the narrator's chance encounter with a woman who mistakes him for someone else. All of these epitomize what a flash is at its best. They are moving, provocative, and memorable. Unfortunately, the quality of these pieces is uneven. The good news is that if you read one that you do not enjoy, it only takes a flash to try again.