New Anthology: The Best Small Fictions 2015


May 30, 2011
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Aurora, CO
There is a newly released anthology The Best Small Fictions 2015 by Tara L. Masih the editor of Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Flash Fiction (also highly recommended reading). It is something of resurrection of a Flash Fiction anthology from decades ago. I finished reading (and re-reading many stories) this weekend and have posted this review at Goodreads and Amazon.

The Best Small Fictions 2015 guest editor Robert Olen Butler series editor Tara L. Masih

What a wonderful anthology! What a joy! What fun! Tara L. Masih and her editors are to be congratulated on assembling what to me is a premier annual anthology of flash fiction!
There is a breadth and depth here that readers unfamiliar with flash will likely be astonished by. There are quirky, funny, serious and sentimental selections. In other words just about something for everyone.
This collection is comprised of 55 fictions which were selected by Robert Olen Butler from 105 provided to him. The remaining selections are listed in an appendix.
The opening story "By Heart" will literally grab you by the heartstrings and set them ringing, playing over and over and isn't that exactly what a good story does, lodges itself inside you reverbrating, ringing, playing over and over in your mind and in your soul?
It's all but impossible to pick any one 'best' anything, but for me there were two stories here tied for the top, but immediately followed by others. Those two were:
A Dream with the Wind in It by Kelly Cherry
Before She Was a Memory by Emma Bolden.
Both incredible stories that will rattle your soul.

Another pair of stories here tripped my trigger in a more specific way. I love stories that play with time and space and identity and these two are wonderful: Scarlet Fever by Stefanie Freele and Let's Say by Julia Strayer.
On the lighter side were A Notice from the Office of Reclamation by J. Duncan Wiley ( I’m sure I was attracted to its resemblance to my own “Notice of Recall”) and Dead Gary by Dan Moreau. I and probably anyone who has ever worked in a modern office has known Dead Gary! Excellent humorous story!

My remaining selections of note from my admittedly personal perspective were:
Not About Liz by Catherine Moore, a wonderful story with an increadible final sentence!
Brisket by Stuart Dybek one of my favorite writers of all time and while I personally might not choose this story of his as his best, it is definitely up there with any of his best flash fictions.
Lithopedion by Randall Brown a devastatingly serious fiction addressing a condition which (to my knowledge) is real and can actually happen.
Chicken Dance by Misty Shipman Ellingburg an interesting look at a one-night-stand which manages to include American Indian culture, Sherman Alexi, Chicken Dancing and The Way Some Men Are all in 100 words!
Something Overheard by Yennie Cheung which takes us into a position we have all been in at one time or another in our lives.
El Paso: July by Jeff Streeby a story of life and death and survival in the West Texas landscape.
Shaping Air by Danielle McLaughlin a story of hands and balloon animals, love and magic.

I loved reading this anthology and I do so hope it continues year after year after year. It is great, it is wonderful, and it is required reading for anyone interested in flash and its amazing ability to distill the length and breadth of fiction as a whole into intense bite-sized pieces that will set you mind and soul ringing.

My advice, get it, read it, be enlightened.
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