I usually compare the novel to a mammal, be it wild as a tiger or tame as a cow; the short story to a bird or a fish; the microstory to an insect (iridescent in the best cases). - Louisa Valenzuela
Luisa Valenuzeula’s statement has a certain charm as she compares the very short fiction form, now known as flash fiction, to iridescent insects, but I prefer to liken them to gems, lustrous with beauty and hard as the truths they reveal. The editors of Flash Fiction International selected eighty-six of the best of the best stories in this form. The editors included stories from locations as diverse as The United States, Iraq, Bangladesh, Argentina and Zimbabwe.
A review of all eighty-six stories is not possible, but a sampling serves to illustrate the diversity of voices in this collection drawn from world wide sources:
In “The Waterfall,” Alberto Chimal of Mexico describes a ritual which combines christening and baptism, in which the drops of consecrated water are likened to the souls of the dead, each hoping that his (or her) name will be preserved, that their name will be the one given to the young child. Will the selected name be Guglielmo, Terencio, Jason, Emil, or some other
In “Prisoner of War,” by Mune Fadhill of Iraq, a man returns home after eighteen years in an Iranian prison to see his now deceased wife’s likeness in the face of a grown daughter. He withdraws into his own world of repairing technology. He is changed and the world around him is changed.
In “Eating Bone” by Shabian Nadiya of Bangladesh describes a wife threated with divorce after ten years of a childless marriage. She asserts herself in a surprising way. Meanwhile, Natalie Diaz of the United States portrays a legless veteran who takes to his wheelchair and cruises the dancefloor of “The Injun Who Could,” intoxicated female tourists.
Although many of the stories are new works by contemporary writers, some very short classics have made their way into this collection. “The Young Widow,” by the Roman author Petronius joins “Appointment in Samarra” (W. Sommerset Maugham) and “An Imperial Message” (Franz Kaufka).
These brief narratives range from one to three pages, and each is a complete story in itself. This collection is as bright as a star field on a dark winter night.