The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field
. Rose Metal Press, $15.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-9789848-6-1
Accessible enough for pleasure reading but instructive enough for the classroom, this volume brings together brief essays by 25 writers known for their talent in flash fiction, aka the ""short short story,"" roughly defined as a tale ""1-3 pages and 250-1,000 words"" long. Along with personal musings on the genre, each author provides a prompt, and their own short piece to illustrate it. Editor and fiction writer Masih provides a remarkably thorough history of flash fiction, dating the phrase ""short short story"" to a 1926 issue of Collier's Weekly. Contributors include award-winning writer Jayne Anne Phillips, who writes that ""one-page fiction should hang in the air of the mind like an image made of smoke""; Shouhua Qi shares her thoughts on the Chinese short short, which they also call a ""Smoke-Long story,"" as in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette; and Vanessa Gebbie, who reminds us of Hemmingway's famous 6-word story: ""For sale: baby shoes, never worn."" Robert Olen Butler and Steve Almond discuss the difference between flash fiction and prose poetry, the former remarking that ""fiction is the art form of human yearning""; Almond, meanwhile, chronicles his journey from bad poetry to good short stories. An expansive list of further reading rounds out this smart, fun, provocative guide to an increasingly popular form.
Reviewed on: 05/04/2009