Super Short Stories: Flash Fiction by Mark C Wallfisch
|Super Short Stories: Flash Fiction by Mark C Wallfisch|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A hundred flash fictions of fewer than three hundred words apiece. Funny and moving and sometimes really quite shocking. One for fans of brevity. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 193||Date: August 2023|
|Publisher: Mark C Wallfisch|
|External links: Author's website|
Got a minute to be amused, entertained, or challenged? These 100 stories are super short. None is more than 300 words. You can read one in a flash. Some are funny. Some are poignant. All are short.
Question: how do you review flash fiction? How do you give a flavour of a fully rounded little story if that story is told in fewer than three hundred words? Or do you try to draw out themes from all the flash fictions in a book of them? I don't know! Perhaps we could start by explaining that there really isn't a fixed definition of flash fiction but that for this collection, author Mark C Wallfisch has gone for a three hundred word limit. That's about a single page in your average paperback. He's also gone, mostly, for full stories with a beginning, a middle and an end - the tales in Super Short Stories aren't little impressions of moments or scenes; they're full narratives.
I don't know about you but I think this format is one of the most challenging tasks one could set for oneself as a writer. One needs to set the scene, develop the story, draw the reader in, and find an ending, all in the space of one little page.
The good news is that Wallfisch is clearly up to the challenge. If I could tie these stories, which are disparate in tone and mood, together with one common theme, it would be the surprise ending. And I didn't see most of them coming. It's nice to end every page in the book one is reading with an Oh! or an Awww or a Ha! - or even with a wistful sigh. You'll recognise many of Wallfisch's characters from your own life - I laughed out loud at Lecture, which features Alan, a man straight from the British "pub bore" trope, even if he is American and in a slightly different setting.
Other highlights from this volume of one hundred flashes, were Brimming With Style - Marshall is very proud of his fedora hat. It gets lots of looks and allows for lots of looks. But is this actually a good thing? In Broke No More, Grace wins a slot machine jackpot and, I'm afraid to say, finds out that some luck isn't actually lucky at all. I liked Critical Race Theory in which Republican Roger and Democratic Dave argue out their political tribalism. Read it twice and you will see the underlying point.
Super Short Stories covers both contemporary preoccupations and timeless situations. Some of the stories are challenging and some are amusing, but I think you get a strong sense of an author with a deep connection to humanity and humanism, and a positive outlook on life, even when he is exploring its darker side. I'm a sucker for short stories, including flash fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single one of these.
If the idea of flash fiction interests you, you could also look at Krispy Whispers by Melvin Burgess - the genesis for which was an experiment on Twitter - or X, or whatever we're calling it now - and really captures the central idea behind the format.
You can read more about Mark C Wallfisch here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Super Short Stories: Flash Fiction by Mark C Wallfisch at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Super Short Stories: Flash Fiction by Mark C Wallfisch at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.