Monday 15 July 2019

Some recent Flash collections

I've been catching up on recent Flash Fiction collections from acknowledged experts in the genre and/or heroic publishers. They're all worth a read.

  • "You're Not Supposed to Cry" by Gary Duncan (Vagabond Voices, 2017. Puffs by Paul Beckman, etc). He's the founding editor of Spelk Fiction, a Flash magazine.
  • "Some of us glow more than others" by Tania Hershman (Unthank books, 2017) is a mix of Flash and short stories. She's an experienced tutor, judge and writer of Flash, who's published short story and poetry books too.
  • "Nothing to worry about" by Vanessa Gebbie (Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press, 2018). Another experienced tutor, judge and writer of Flash, who's published short story and poetry books too.
  • "Alligators in the Night" by Meg Pokrass (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2018. Puffs by Gaffrey, Scotellaro, etc). One of the big names in Flash, as tutor, judge and writer.
  • "Kiss kiss" by Paul Beckman (Truth Serum Press, 2019). Another of the big names in Flash.
  • "All That Is Between Us" by K.M.Elkes (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019. Puffs by Readman, Pokrass, Hershman, Gaffrey, etc). A short story tutor.

Most of these authors write "proper" Flash, with a narrative. Tania Hershman strays the most, writing pieces that could be prose poems. Some of Vanessa Gebbie's pieces are difficult to classify too.

The pieces that have been previously published have appeared mostly in specialist Flash magazines (Beckman's acknowledgements page mentions 40 magazines!) though there have been a few break-out successes.

The International Short-Short Story Press, who published Vanessa Gebbie's book, also publish a paper-based magazine called "Flash", which is on the acknowledgements page of most (maybe all) these books.

On the cover of Meg Pokrass's book there's a Paul McVeigh quote - "If you ever hear someone say they don't get flash fiction or ask what impact can you possibly make with prose in such few words? - tell them to read Meg Pokrass."

Will any of the books convince non-Flashers of the merit of the format? I'm not so sure. People irritated by short stories (claiming that they're too short for depth or immersion) will be even more irritated by Flash. Poets are used to reading short pieces but won't appreciate Flash's lack of entanglement with language. I suspect Flash will continue to be read and reviewed mainly by people who write Flash, the same names incestuously cropping up. But assemble the best 5 from each of these books and you'll have an anthology with enough clout to challenge some recent poetry anthologies I've seen, clear of pretension and rich in ideas. It would be worth comparing it with Simon Armitage's "Seeing Stars" and some other supposedly poetry books.

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