Grady's Reviews > Flashes from the Other World

Flashes from the Other World by Julie Ann Weinstein
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Nov 02, 10


Playing with the Plumbline

A Plumbline is defined as a line directed exactly toward the Earth's center of gravity. As a plumbline swings it circles around momentary paths that are inevitably pulled back to the gravity point, the center - it is a scientific fact. Reading Julie Ann Weinstein's collection of brief 'flash' stories is like moving out, away from the center where most stories dwell, uncontrolled by the laws of gravity, picking up momentary fragments of reality and then spinning out of control to create a place where Weinstein can create a brilliant moment of her own brand of reality that floats along seducing the reader on every page to this collection of FLASHES FROM THE OTHER WORLD. It is wonderfully off-centered.

Many authors will admit that writing short stories is more difficult than writing novels: ideas must be molded and embellished with a beginning and an end in a fairly short period of space. Take that one step further with the definition of flash fiction, ' flash fiction (AKA sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction, prosetry and short short story) - is complete stories of 1000 or fewer words', and there are few practitioners who can accomplish these guidelines. Weinstein just happens to be one of those writers gifted with the ability to present terse explosions of stories that haunt the readers mind as much as any extended novel. She takes a word or a noticed piece of detritus and boom! out flows a complete story that is unafraid to employ the realm of magic/imagination/surrealism/magic realism to embellish her tale. This particular collection of flash fiction (not confined to stories of 1000 words always) is divided into three parts: Paranormal, Relationships, and Surreal. And these sectional titles offer a bit of help in approaching the many stories that follow. In the first section she offers such quickies as 'Camp Ghosts' a story only a half page long but one that reenacts the adventures of little girls off at summer camp dealing with a mysterious swimming incident. In the Relationship section she makes an entire revelation of two people over the disparity of shoe types in 'Itchy Feet', while in 'Sangria Mischief' we get to know a couple who base their wedding on stolen items form other brides - resourcefulness!

For this reader the most successful section is titled Surreal - and it is here that delicious little moments of inspiration develop into 'Flowers in the Alleyway' (a sniper's gun seems to shoot out roses and daisies to a hidden girl's memory instead of the reported deaths0. Or in 'Of Bees and Trucks' where an observer watches as bees fill a plastic truck with honey: 'Bees, they know it all. They see life between the sweetness of honey and the sour sting of death. Yes, the sting hurts them more than you. The pain today in your shorts is their death. Did you thank the bee for giving up its life so you could dance on the street? I didn't think so...etc' Every page of this polished book is rich with imagination that takes us on a journey to dreams and beyond - to the impossible ... or at least implausible. This is a book that, despite its idea of very quick stories, will call you back for re-reading many times. It is like Rod Serling meets Emily Dickinson!

Grady Harp
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