The third instalment of one of the most popular and esteemed series of flash fiction anthologies, The Best Small Fictions 2017 (Braddock Avenue Books, 2017), is an essential read for every flash fiction writer or reader. From Matthew Baker’s island of presidential doppelgangers to Harriot West’s ekphrastic haibun story about Van Gogh’s sunflowers, each of the pieces in this anthology proves that writers are not only continuing to produce high-quality flash fiction, but that the imagination and scope of flash fiction is far-reaching, whether writers choose to explore the uncharted or re-invent the wheel.
A wonderful aspect of this series is its author spotlight, which includes an interview with an author with either more than one story in the anthology or multiple nominations (and being nominated just the once is an achievement in itself!). This year’s spotlight author is Joy Williams, a renowned American writer. The two stories, taken from 99 Stories of God (Tin House Books, 2016) serve as a great opening to the anthology and as a taster of Williams’ engaging, stripped-back collection itself. ‘36’ tells the story of Penny and the house she and her husband lived in, a house that she despises and rents out after her husband’s death. The story is laced with wit, the language is stripped back to the bare essentials, and culminates in a final striking image that offers a spectacular opening to the anthology.
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Stephanie Clement Photography
Tara L. Masih is editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle (both ForeWord Books of the Year), author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows, and Founding Series Editor of the Best Small Fictions series. Her flash appears in Word of Mouth, Brevity & Echo, Flash Fiction Funny, Flashed: Sudden Stories in Comics and Prose, and W.W. Norton’s forthcoming New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. Featured in Fiction Writer’s Review for National Short Story Month, her flash received Wigleaf Top 50 recognition and other awards. Her novel, The Witness Tree, set in WW II Ukraine, is forthcoming.
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The Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2016) is the second instalment in this series of anthologies that pull together the very best in small fiction. To say this is no easy task is an understatement, one with which I can only begin to empathise. Tara L. Masih, series editor, highlights in her foreword to the anthology: “out of thousands of published small fictions, my staff and consulting editors and I narrowed down the field to 100”, to which the guest editor, Stuart Dybek, whittled this selection down to 45 stories. This feat is admirable in itself, but truly rewarding for readers of this anthology.
An additional feature to this anthology are interviews offering a spotlight on a particular author and on a particular press, magazine, or journal. Both Megan Giddings, (formerly an Executive Editor at SmokeLong Quarterly, now co-fiction editor at The Offing mag and a recipient of the Kathy Fish Fellowship) and Texture Press, received five nominations and have two small fictions featured in this anthology. Not only is this an incredible achievement for both Giddings and Texture Press, but, and most importantly, when you read these pieces you see how their places are more than well-deserved.
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