FLASH! by John Dufresne

FLASH!

Writing the Very Short Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A how-to guide to writing flash fiction.

Dufresne (MFA/Florida International Univ.; I Don’t Like Where This Is Going, 2016, etc.) has written many novels and stories and a number of books about writing. Here, he focuses on writing a specific kind of fiction: flash fiction, aka micro, mini, short-short, pocket-size, etc. The author describes it as “narrative (or it’s not) that is distilled and refined, concentrated, layered, coherent, textured, stimulating, and resonant, and it may prove to be the ideal form of fiction for…an age of shrinking attention spans and busy and distracted lives.” His ambitious goal is to demystify the writing process and discuss the craft of storytelling. He provides many samples of flash fiction, including graphic ones, by a wide array of writers (these make up most of the book), with some sharp critical analysis, prompts, and exercises along the way, all in a little over 200 pages. Scattered throughout are epigraphs, also short—“style is the difference between a circle and the way you draw it” (Pablo Picasso)—to inspire would-be word flashers and MFA students looking to get in on the mini-bandwagon. Dufresne provides minilectures on myths, stories in general, short stories—what William Trevor described as “an explosion of truth”—and very short stories, which aren’t new (Dufresne references Borges’ Ficciones and Kafka’s Parables and Paradoxes). The author is not afraid to cite those who are prescriptive in their definitions—e.g., in The Fiction Dictionary, Laurie Henry writes that a short-short is a “complete story of 1,500 words max and around 250 words minimum.” Some of the other cited authors include Steve Almond, Denise Duhamel, Lee Martin, and Debra Monroe.

Not the place to learn about the short story genre itself but a good place to learn how to write some really, really short ones.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-393-35235-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2017




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