cover image Sudden Flash Youth: 65 Short-Short Stories

Sudden Flash Youth: 65 Short-Short Stories

Edited by Christine Perkins-Hazuka, Tom Hazuka and Mark Budman. Persea, $12.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-89255-371-6

Featuring emerging and established writers (e.g. Azizat Danmole and Alice Walker, respectively), this anthology brings together 65 short stories%E2%80%94each under 1,000 words%E2%80%94that deal with adolescence and childhood. Given its thematic unity, the collection displays a staggering amount of invention and variety, though, at times, the reiteration of "coming-of-age" narratives in such close proximity risks deadening the effect. Manuela Soares' "The Haircut," in which a teenage protagonist comes to grips with her sexuality and incipient lesbianism, is immediately followed by the revelation of unexpected humanity%E2%80%94 and concomitant appreciation of mortality%E2%80%94on the part of rural children in Jim Heynen's "What Happened During the Ice Storm." Among the strongest are the pieces that are written from the perspective of an adolescent or younger child, such as Gayle Brandeis's, "Rapture" narrated by a young Jewish girl who has been spooked about the Biblical rapture by her Christian babysitter, or Caron A. Levis's "A Whole Other," a monologue in the bittersweet voice of a high school aged mother. Included also is more experimental, surrealistic work such as "The Perpetual Now," by Daniel Levin Becker, in which a boy's desire to live "fully in every moment" leads to an attempt to "eliminate%E2%80%A6the useless from his dreaming state," leaving him "terribly, oppressively bored." While this anthology is as much directed at adolescents as about them, anyone who has%E2%80%94to use Flannery O'Connor's phrase%E2%80%94"survived childhood" will appreciate this excellent collection. (Jan.)