Reviewed by Julie M. Tate
The Vestal Review, one of the few journals dedicated to flash fiction (or mico-fiction/short-short fiction), considers its genre “an underrepresented type of fiction.” It isn’t the only journal to think so; more and more often authors find quality journals accepting flash fiction as a credible genre of work.
One of my favorite flash journals out today is a bi-annual publication aptly titled Quick Fiction, distributed by The Parlor, North Shore’s Independent Writing Studio and edited by Jennifer Pieroni, since 2001. The Boston Globe recently ranked Quick Fiction #4 among 100 New England literary magazines. Boston’s Weekly Dig has called it “a journal filled with great work from writers who respect the rigid, potentially gorgeous contours of micro-fiction and have a great deal to say in very little time.”
In my opinion, flash-fiction still isn’t really recognized as a legitimate genre. With the word count ranging from 500-1500 and negotiable plots, there are many ways to define flash fiction. Quick Fiction is dedicated to showcasing works of 500 words or less. It isn’t quite a short-story, not nearly long enough to be a novella, not quite condensed enough to be a poem. Many people I’ve talked to have written flash fiction off as “an easy way out” or basically for people not good enough to excel in any of the above mentioned genres. Prose in general tends to be frowned upon, a wordy, needless group of words that could possibly be expanded upon or cut down. Does anyone remember Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s infamous quote: “I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in their best order.”
To journals such as Quick Fiction however, flash fiction is a photograph in 500 words; the work even looks like a photograph on the page. It takes immense talent to describe a scene in all its detail in 500 words, to showcase a wealth of imagery in a spoonful of time. By no means is it an easy task. Descriptions that entice and colorful language are a must; it might well be one of the hardest types of genres to write. Any of the included stories in an issue of Quick Fiction will re-enforce this fact. From the absurd and sickeningly beautiful “The Practical Application of Beauty” by Andrea Kneeland in Volume 15 to the gorgeous description in “Sunny Days Are Fine” by Matthew Purdy in Volume 12, Quick Fiction is dedicated to publishing some of the best at this craft. The stories chosen for this journal stay with you long after your eyes have taken in their short borders, letting your imagination run with what could be and what is.
(Quick Fiction Volume 15 is available now for $8. For samples and subscription information visit http://www.quickfiction.org/)
Julie M. Tate is a freelance artist and journalist currently residing in Tulsa, OK though she considers Chicago home. Her poetry has been featured in numerous anthologies including The Great American Poetry Show and is the owner, author and editor of Gossip and the Devil [http://www.devilgossip.com/], a creative/lifestyle blog focused on poetry, vicodin, jetsetting and boys with brown eyes.