In a scape of tweets and soundbites and self-erasing snapchats, we are less often eating ballotine and more often nibbling on canapés. Flash fiction is a perfect mouthful at, typically, 300 words or fewer. But these are no mere entrées to more substantial media. Rather, each flash is a consummate whole. In Flash Fiction International we are spooned yarns which dance on the lid of human behaviour or plunge us to the most intimate recesses of the psyche. There is speculative fiction and Aesopian fable, social commentary, and storytelling about storytelling – There is even, we are told, in an act of self-proclamation, ‘the best story in the world’.
Reading a flash anthology cover to cover is a giddying experience. The reader is jolted in and out of dissimilar worlds, in something like stroboscopic succession. Each story has intensity such that the heart does a little flutter, so by the final pages I felt arrhythmia set in. This is an accolade, in the way that a good hangover points to antecedent merriment. There is a riot in these words. Many of these tales hoot and scream and run amok within their form’s slim parameters. They insist on pasting themselves to consciousness. They smash up the spectacles by which we view the world, and swap them for a kaleidoscope. Twisting once, we are in a dermatologist’s office watching a pimple commandeer the receptionist’s face; twisting again, we follow a naked woman through the streets of Santa Maria; another twist, and we watch a woman devour Christmas lights. These are counterfactual worlds in which the most whacky events merge seamlessly with their realities. This is writing as sorcery.