Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook

David Galef. Columbia Univ, $25 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-231-17969-0
Novelist Galef (How to Cope with Suburban Stress), a creative writing professor at Montclair State University who has also published many short stories, turns his attention to the unique genre of flash fiction, which, he explains, “has become the catchall term for any minuscule narrative.” After noting that Aesop’s fables may be the ur–flash fiction, Galef nicely summarizes how the form became popular in the 1980s; now there are magazines and online sites devoted to flash fiction (500-1000 words), microfiction (250-500 words), and even nanofiction, “also known as Twitter fiction or Twiction” (only 140 characters). Galef is an excellent writer, and the book throughout is a delight—he makes the reader want to immediately start writing. He begins by describing the types of narrative most suited to flash fiction, such as character sketches (“Don’t say that Alex is a good cook; say that his veal piccata has just the right amount of lemon”) and anecdotes (“One anecdote from someone’s life... can reveal more than an entire chapter of her autobiography”). He provides deft insights and suggestions on editing, such as “slashing” and “microsurgery,” and he suggests techniques that work well when applied to a small text. Best of all, each chapter provides examples of great flash fiction—from authors as different as Saki and Steve Martin—as well as ideas for readers to explore. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 11/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-231-54313-2
Hardcover - 160 pages - 978-0-231-17968-3
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