Review of Flash Fiction International

June 30, 2015 § 2 Comments

Flash Fiction International pbk mech.inddA review by Sarah Freligh:

In 1992, James Thomas concluded his introduction to the anthology Flash Fiction by  wondering “whether ‘flash fiction’ will be an avid endeavor of the present literary generation.” Twenty-three years later, evidenced by the recently published Flash Fiction International edited by Thomas, Robert Shapard and Christopher Merrill, the answer would seem to be a resounding yes, yes indeed. Representing six continents and roughly four dozen  countries, the eighty-six stories collected in this anthology suggest that flash is not only alive but thriving.

Though the book’s title announces the anthology as “flash fiction,” the introduction often refers to the form simply as “flash”—not merely, I suspect, in the interest of brevity. Rather, by opting not to corral these works into the small pen of a specific genre, the suggestion is that flash transcends genre, that the best works are hybrids combining craft aspects of both prose and poetry. Indeed, what’s collected in this volume include not only fiction, but prose poems and brief nonfictions as well. So whether a story is fact or fiction seems of less interest to the anthology’s editors than the question “is this flash?”  That ongoing conversation comprises the section at the end of the anthology, “Flash Theories,” in which practitioners offer up a feast of ideas ranging from the appeal of flash to nuts and bolts advice about craft.

Though diverse in form and varying in length, what these eighty-six pieces do share is an allegiance to the classic mode of storytelling in which conflict is introduced immediately—what Janet Burroway refers to in her book Imaginative Writing: The Element of Craft as “a state of unstable equilibrium.” Take “Lost,” by Chilean writer Alberto Fuguet, which opens, “In a country filled with missing people, disappearing is easy” (85). Or “The Snake” by Kenyan writer Eric Rugara with the ominous introductory sentence “The kid saw it first” (73). Or Cate McGowan’s “Arm, Clean Off,” which wastes no time getting down to the title’s nitty-gritty: “The irrigation machine took it, slashed his arm off, a thick gash and a click of bones as it sliced right through” (158). Read that sentence out loud and listen to how the assonant rhyme of the last three syllables demands that we slow down, linger on the horror of the opening image. It’s prose, but it’s poetry, too.

While the Internet has created a kind of borderless publishing house that has contributed to the flourishing of flash worldwide, these stories counter the notion that “brief” serves up literary fast food to be inhaled and forgotten. “Brief” here does not mean a quick nor easy read. Though short in compass, each of these stories is dense, rich in subtext. They require us to read and read again, to dig beyond the surface glitter of beautifully rendered images and sculpted sentences and go vertically in search of the vein of gold. As Richard Bausch suggests:

When a story is compressed so much, the matter of it tends to require more size: that is, in order to make it work in so small a space its true subject must be proportionately larger (233).

Ultimately, these are stories that linger and haunt, that go on after the last sentence has ended. I think of “That Color” by British writer Jon McGregor, a deceptively simple story of an extended moment at home between a long-married couple, an unnamed, archetypal “he” and “she.” Told from the vantage point of the husband, the story accrues its quiet power in alternating narrative and dialogue that slowly pulls the curtain away to suggest the wife’s plight. The story ends as quietly as it begins, with two concluding sentences that land like punches: “I felt for her hand and held it. I said, But tell me again” (147).

Such is the power of story, of these stories: To tell us, again and again.


Sarah Freligh is the author of A Brief Natural History of an American Girl, winner of the Editor’s Choice award from Accents Publishing, and Sort of Gone, a book of poems that follows the rise and fall of a fictional pitcher named Al Stepansky. Sad Math, the winner of the Moon City Poetry Award, is forthcoming in November 2015. Recent work has been featured on Verse Daily, in The Sun Magazine, Brevity, Rattle, Barn Owl Review, and in the 2011 anthology Good Poems: American Places. Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006.

Fish Flash

February 26, 2013 § 2 Comments

fishWe are all about flash nonfiction here at Brevity, but our pals at SmokeLong Quarterly like it short and fictionalized, and they’re offering a $500 Kathy Fish Fellowship. Here’s what you need to do:

Go to SmokeLong‘s Submittable Portal.

1. Answer the question: “What about flash fiction appeals to you, and what do you hope to accomplish with your writing if you are chosen as the fellow? ” in less than 300 words.

2. Four samples of your flash fiction (stories of 1000 words or less). Please include word count after the title of each story. These samples may be unpublished or previously published in venues other than SmokeLong. The writing samples should, as a whole, best reflect your ability, style(s), etc. Show us who you are as a writer through these samples.

There is no application fee. Application deadline is March 31, 2013.

The submission portal doesn’t open until March 1st, but details are here.


Wanted: The Flash

November 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Marie Alexander Poetry Series Press is putting together an anthology of prose Flash Sequences.

Below are guidelines from the Marie Alexander site:

  • A flash sequence is an accumulation of two or more prose pieces, with each segment not to exceed 500 words.
  • Writers may submit more than one flash sequence; however, each writer’s total submission may not exceed 10 pages (double-spaced, 12-point type, one-inch margins).
  • We encourage submissions of every sort; rather than try to define the form, we hope each writer will use whatever organizing principle seems best in any particular case: fiction, nonfiction, prose-poetry, whatever.
  • Email pdf files of submission and cover letter to Wesley Fairman at
  • Please use “Anthology Submission” as the subject line.
  • Make sure author’s name and email is on all attached documents.
  • Previously published material is okay as long as author holds the copyright.
  • We will accept submissions from January 1 until June 1, 2013.

Hayden’s Ferry Review Says “We Want Short Forms!”

November 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

From the HFR Folks:

Hayden’s Ferry Review is calling for flash fiction, prose poetry and short essays on/about/exploring these forms for our Spring/Summer 2011 issue. Our special focus on short forms is designed to explore and celebrate big achievements in small spaces.

In addition to this general call for short forms, we’re also asking writers to respond to the issue’s cover image, a photograph taken by artist Christian Houge on the island of Svalbard. Responses to the image should be in either prose poetry or flash fiction forms. HFR editors will select one of each genre to be printed on the inside of our Spring/Summer issue’s cover.

To see the cover image and learn more about this submission call visit:

The submission deadline is December 15th. / Hayden’s Ferry Review pays its contributors.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Flash fiction at BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

%d bloggers like this: