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Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  699 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
After publication of the first Flash Fiction anthology over a decade ago, “flash” became part of the creative writing lexicon for readers, writers, students, and teachers. In this follow-up collection, the editors once again tackle the question: “How short can a story be and truly be a story?” Determined to find the best flashes from America in the twenty-first century, Ja ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton Company
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Whitney Atkinson
Feb 06, 2017 Whitney Atkinson rated it really liked it
This was such a fun read! I wasn't aware that flash fiction/short-short fiction was a thing, so when my creative writing teacher put this in our hands and we began discussing it for class, I fell in love! All of the stories are 4 pages or less, which I thought gave it a lot of potential to be very fascinating. It made the book go by quickly, but each story (or, most of them) still packed its own distinct punch. It's hard to rate this as a whole because I would give some stories a million stars b ...more
Samuel Snoek-Brown
Aug 07, 2008 Samuel Snoek-Brown rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about the short-short (or flash fiction, of micro-fiction, or whatever it is we want to call it these days). On the one hand, it's a powerful form, as close to the compression and deceptive complexity of poetry as fiction can get (my friend Beth Ann Fennelly, who is one of my favorite poets, insists there is no difference between the short-short and the prose poem, and I can't find any good reason to disagree with her). But because the short-short is so, well, short, writer ...more
Amy Nicole
May 11, 2012 Amy Nicole rated it really liked it
So this was my first time reading flash fiction -- short short stories no longer than 2 pages each -- and I really enjoyed it. I made a list of the stories in this anthology that really struck me. Then the list kept getting longer and longer and wound up being about half of the book, so I had to condense it to just the very very best. I've found a few new authors I need to stalk and read more of. I would definitely recommend reading this if you like modern stories, literary stories, weird storie ...more
Jenny Napolitano
Apr 29, 2007 Jenny Napolitano rated it liked it
A lot of good stuff, a lot of okay stuff. Raises a lot of questions in my mind about the gimmicky nature of flash and makes me nervous, but overall I still love the genre.

My favorite stories from this collection are: "Stories" by John Edgar Wideman, "Sleeping" by Katharine Weber, "Currents" by Hannah Bottomy, "Consuming the View" by Luigi Malerba, "Things You Should Know" by A.M. Homes, "Blind Fish" by Melanie Rae Thon, "Why You Shouldn't Have Gone in the First Place" by Samantha Schoech, "All G
Jan 04, 2016 Jim rated it liked it
As with any collection of short stories, whether by a single author or anthology, there will be selections that often range widely and will appeal to different people, but overall I thought this group enjoyable and entertaining, often clever and humorous, with an occasional spot of melancholy. They often made you think. I marveled. And the best part is if you got caught up in one that didn't really catch your interest, you just had to turn a page. Some of the authors are somewhat well known to m ...more
Jun 25, 2016 May rated it it was amazing
I've been binge-reading a lot of flash fiction lately, which is a pretty easy and wonderful thing to do anytime and anywhere. Riding the MTR, waiting for mom to finish her errands at the bank, sitting on the toilet ... you name it.

As the title of the anthology suggests, the stories in Flash Fiction Forward are each over in a flash, and the authors only have so many pages that they can use to surprise or move us.

Sometimes, the stories end too soon and expectations are not met. Most times, however
Carole Richardson
Mar 09, 2017 Carole Richardson rated it liked it
I found this quite a mixed bag and couldn't always see 'the point' but the one that has stuck in my mind more than any other is 'WORDS' by John A. McCaffrey. One or two others made me think, particularly 'The Black City' by Leonardo Alishan and I laughed out loud reading 'My date with Neanderthal Woman' by David Galef.
Jun 11, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
With 80 short-short stories by 80 different authors, you can argue that there is something here for everyone, provided that whoever happens to open the book is interested in flash fiction in the first place. Having recently tried to write a story in 1000 or fewer words, I have a new appreciation for what many of these writers were able to accomplish in two or three pages. As is often the case with collections, some stories didn't appeal to me, but more were good: entertaining and imaginative, ti ...more
Vincent Scarpa
May 06, 2012 Vincent Scarpa rated it really liked it
Some real gems in here, mixed in with some rather forgettable stories, too. Reading eighty takes on flash fiction is interesting in a lot of different ways, and sort of confirmed my suspicion that, when done right, flash achieves something longer form simply can't. But, a lot of the rest of the time, flash ends up being a gimmick more than anything else. [Like the several stories included here that are, for all intents and purposes, punchline stories.] Stories that I just loved:

"Baker's Helper"
Dana Jerman
Jul 03, 2012 Dana Jerman rated it really liked it
Anthologies are always hit and miss (or "almost hit"). Which makes this one especially great because the stories are short, they have to be supercharged to hit their mark (the intro says it all, and the first story is rad). Enjoyable!
Matt Sautman
May 07, 2017 Matt Sautman rated it really liked it
As a flash fiction collection, this anthology is a nice blend of humor and stark observation. Although I prefer both Hint Fiction and Varieties of Disturbance over this collection, there are certainly incredibly vivid moments within this anthology that makes it worth reading. From a living sushi-table and a ceaseless tug-o-war between a thief and an old woman to a person whose job is to talk down suicidal jumpers, there are a wealth of perspectives to be found here, even if one doesn't necessari ...more
Joe Lyons
Jun 21, 2017 Joe Lyons rated it liked it
There is nothing wrong with this book. Some of the stories are great, and some leave me head scratching. I just don't like flash fiction.
Patrick (TheKoolKandy)
Sep 19, 2016 Patrick (TheKoolKandy) rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, school
An interesting anthology with a number of stories that really took advantage of different forms. On the other hand, a lot were just about brooding guys and mysterious women, which got boring really quickly.
Aug 17, 2013 Johnny rated it it was amazing
I haven't ever read an entire book of "flash fiction," short works no longer than two pages each, and I found the experience so fun and rewarding. The "Editor's Note" for this collection is invaluable, most notably because it suggests reading the pieces like poetry. Each piece is so short, that a reader can't simply swiftly comb through it and expect to gather everything the author intended. These pieces are not driven by the traditional elements of the short story, but in many cases they are ju ...more
Matt Hlinak
Oct 31, 2012 Matt Hlinak rated it really liked it
My favorite story in this collection is David Ryan’s “The Good Life.” The plot is driven by a case of mistaken identity. The unnamed male narrator and his old high school classmate, whose “first name was almost the same as her last name,” run into each other at the airport. In the story’s climax, we learn that while the two characters were acquaintances in high school, the woman believes the narrator is someone else, another of their classmates to whom she had evidently been closer.

Rather than s
Dec 06, 2010 Julie rated it liked it
Shelves: anthology
This anthology was compiled 10 years after the first one. The one that coined the term 'flash fiction'. Not that they invented the format by any means. Defined it a little maybe. Made it easier to search for than 'short short stories'. Search engines hate that sort of thing.

The editors say that in the ten years since their first anthology, the format of flash fiction has really taken off, particularly on the web. I will not disagree. They then said they had a whole bunch of sources to search thr
Sep 14, 2012 Ursula rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories, flash
I love everything about flash fiction--reading it, writing, it, teaching it. This anthology contained 80 stories, about 17 of which I thought were amazing and memorable; the rest I found to be incredibly gimmicky and forgettable. I appreciated the variety of styles, but the majority of the stories fell short for me. Many ended in predictable, literary ways. The gems in the collection include:

+ Before the Bath by Ismail Kadare
+ Sleeping by Katherine Weber
+ 1951 by Richard Bausch
+ Consuming the
Jul 12, 2009 Tyler rated it liked it
Synopsis: This book is a collection of flash fiction stores, which are typically the shortest of the short stories. While the definition of flash fiction isn't set in stone, typically the stories are less than 750 words and/or 3 pages in length.

My Review: The variety in this collection is incredible. I enjoyed spending a few minutes reading a story about one topic only to have the next story about something totally different and unrelated, and usually on a topic that I've never read anything abo
Jonathan Tennis
Mar 23, 2016 Jonathan Tennis rated it really liked it
Enjoyable collection of short stories. Nicest part about this collection is that even if you as the reader don't enjoy a particular author, the story will be over in only a few pages.

A few of my favorites were: Sushi Cashmere (Carolyn Forde); Mandela Was Late (Peter Mehlman); Currents (Hannah Bottomy); Bullet (Kim Church); The Peterson Fire (Barry Gifford); That Could Have Been You (Jim Heynen); The Wallet (Andrew McCuaig); How to End Up (Jennifer A. Howard); Test (G.A. Ingersoll); Diagnostic D
Pierced Librarian
Mar 14, 2016 Pierced Librarian rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who enjoy short fiction
Shelves: fiction
Flash fiction is gaining a lot of ground and I am both fascinated and weary of it in turns.

It takes mad, mad skill to write a highly engaging piece of fiction- and it takes even more skill to create an entire story arc in 50- 1,000 words. This anthology holds to 750 words.

Several of the pieces in Flash Fiction Forward were amazing. Simply stellar writing. Others were so bad, I felt like I was clambering through the slush pile of a high school freshman English course. Writing so bad, so painfull
Oct 21, 2013 Caitlin rated it liked it
I've never read flash fiction before but I think sometimes the form says a lot even with its limited space. Some of the stories that had the most impact on me are: "Level" by Keith Scribner (p. 79) and "Currents" by Hannah Bottomy (p. 51). "Level" is my favourite, though, because unlike the majourity of the other stories, it was a simple moment of happiness (with a little bit of mixed feelings about the future thrown in). Most of the stories had a melancholy tone and it was rather depressing rea ...more
Setting aside time to read eighty short-shorts is harder than one thinks. This is a good compilation, but not as strong as the original, which concentrated mostly on literary shorts. FLASH FICTION FORWARD is a conglomeration of literary fiction, experimental fiction, genre fiction, and that unnamed personal fiction that has been spreading on various websites (but not in books).

I love flash fiction, but, as the editor discusses in the introduction, it's definition seems to have changed. Anything
Jan 02, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers and writers of flash
Shelves: anthology, 2010read
I was really impressed with a few of these:
- "Things You Should Know" by AM Holmes
- "Currents" by Hannah Bottomy
- "Voices in My Head" by Jack Handey
- "The Orange" by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- "Crazy Glue" by Etgar Keret
+ a few others

A mixed bag as always, esp. in an anthology with 80 stories and a wide array of styles. With the shorts I didn't like as much the problem was usually one of three things:
1) the narrative was too vague
2) story seemed too plain
3) payoff at the end was weak.

Good resource for
Lynn Doiron
Feb 06, 2008 Lynn Doiron rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lynn by: charles lennox via Gather review
I am still reading, dipping into the short-short stories brought together by Norton and edited by James Thomas and Robert Shapard. They are stories that spring from all sorts of voices about all sorts of characters in all sorts of settings. And they have pretty much all, not every single one, but most, stuck with me, come back to enter my thoughts like good poetry will do, made me think again of that situation that passed, that life that was illustrated in some 500 or so words, and then vanished ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Morgan rated it liked it
I'm usually not one for reading short stories and i had never even heard of flash fiction before. A class assigned this reading and much story evaluation and analyzing was had over the book. I only ended up reading about half of this book--and it went the way as other class-required readings go. It disappeared in my room for months and was rediscovered when I was too busy to read it. Nonetheless, it was still fun to read and a good teaching device. I appreciated the time my class devoted into pi ...more
Mar 11, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
I typically won’t read an entire short story collection, but these stories are so quick (all under 3 pages!) it’s hard to skip any. A couple memorable ones were a tale about the fate of the orange who ruled the world by Benjamin Rosenbaum and story from Etgar Keret about a woman who tries to halt the dissolution of her marriage with superglue. And a truly resonate story that I read several time is Before the Bath by Ismail Kadare. It’s a looping thought-process narrative of Agamemnon, reliving t ...more
Jennifer Collins
This is a fast read with a lot of variety and entertainment packed into its pages. I picked it up to get more of a view into flash fiction, which I've not read much, and ended up enjoying it more than I expected to. There were some stories that just went on by without much impression, and even left me wondering why they'd be included in an anthology, but this was rare. More often, a surprising amount of power, character, and story got packed into each piece, short as they were, and the writing t ...more
Julia Curtis
Mar 06, 2013 Julia Curtis rated it liked it
Word of advice. Don't read this after reading "Hint Fiction." Flash and hint are very different and I was sadly disappointed in this book. There were a few very well written stories, but most were just "okay" for me. My favorite was "Crazy Glue." It wasn't full of this wonderful language and it was a bit chunky for lack of a better word, but the picture I was left with after I was done with it was my favorite of all. I would suggest reading this book, but you would probably need longer than a we ...more
Jul 03, 2007 Emily rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anybody with five minutes of time
These little stories are amazing, most of the time, and incredibly versatile in regards to style, content, and accessibility. The stories are designed so you don't turn the page more than once before reaching the end of the story. So it's perfect for train rides, bathroom breaks, the ten minutes before class starts. Plus, this new genre of short stories is really fascinating to follow--characterization and story plot have to be designed to peak and resolve within a very strict limit. This new fo ...more
Feb 06, 2011 Reg rated it it was amazing
these are quite amazing. they are perfect for sharing with others because people won't get too tired of your voice and you won't fumble and fumble until you have to give up reading. They are powerful despite their size. Many have kickers at the end that tie it all together and some have kickers that turn the whole thing upside down. Jumper Down which is the cover I imagine is definitely my favorite. I've read it to most everyone I've come in contact with because these are not stories that should ...more
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Authors- What is the shortest flash fiction you can write? 1 6 Feb 05, 2013 10:48AM  
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