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This second installment of The Best Small Fictions continues to celebrate the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. Forty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Alberto Chimal, Toh EnJoe, Kathy Fish, Amelia Gray, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, and Eliel Lucero—offer readers “some of the brightest concise writing available today” (NewPages This second installment of The Best Small Fictions continues to celebrate the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. Forty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Alberto Chimal, Toh EnJoe, Kathy Fish, Amelia Gray, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, and Eliel Lucero—offer readers “some of the brightest concise writing available today” (NewPages). With spotlights on Texture Press and author Megan Giddings, the acclaimed new series, with its “finger on the pulse,” succeeds in its aim to make something big from many small things. Featuring Small Fictions by: Amir Adam, Daniel Aristi, Tina Barry, Paul Beckman, Laurie Blauner, John Brantingham, Alberto Chimal, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Toh EnJoe, Grant Faulkner, Kathy Fish, Rosie Forrest,Megan Giddings, Amelia Gray, Charles Hansmann, Britt Haraway, Mary-Jane Holmes, Laird Hunt, A. Nicole Kelly, James Kennedy, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, Nathan Leslie, Paul Lisicky, Eliel Lucero, Nancy Ludmerer, Melissa Manning, Michael Martone, Elizabeth Morton, David Naimon, Jessica Plante, Dianca London Potts, Dawn Raffel, James Reidel, Sophie Rosenblum, Caitlin Scarano, Vincent Scarpa, Robert Scotellaro, Courtney Sender, Janey Skinner, Curtis Smith, Robert Vaughan, Clio Velentza "Prepare to be surprised by this striking new series--it has quickly become essential reading." ~Amy Hempel


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This second installment of The Best Small Fictions continues to celebrate the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. Forty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Alberto Chimal, Toh EnJoe, Kathy Fish, Amelia Gray, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, and Eliel Lucero—offer readers “some of the brightest concise writing available today” (NewPages This second installment of The Best Small Fictions continues to celebrate the diversity and quality captured in fiction forms fewer than 1,000 words. Forty-five acclaimed and emerging writers—including Alberto Chimal, Toh EnJoe, Kathy Fish, Amelia Gray, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, and Eliel Lucero—offer readers “some of the brightest concise writing available today” (NewPages). With spotlights on Texture Press and author Megan Giddings, the acclaimed new series, with its “finger on the pulse,” succeeds in its aim to make something big from many small things. Featuring Small Fictions by: Amir Adam, Daniel Aristi, Tina Barry, Paul Beckman, Laurie Blauner, John Brantingham, Alberto Chimal, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Toh EnJoe, Grant Faulkner, Kathy Fish, Rosie Forrest,Megan Giddings, Amelia Gray, Charles Hansmann, Britt Haraway, Mary-Jane Holmes, Laird Hunt, A. Nicole Kelly, James Kennedy, Etgar Keret, R. O. Kwon, Nathan Leslie, Paul Lisicky, Eliel Lucero, Nancy Ludmerer, Melissa Manning, Michael Martone, Elizabeth Morton, David Naimon, Jessica Plante, Dianca London Potts, Dawn Raffel, James Reidel, Sophie Rosenblum, Caitlin Scarano, Vincent Scarpa, Robert Scotellaro, Courtney Sender, Janey Skinner, Curtis Smith, Robert Vaughan, Clio Velentza "Prepare to be surprised by this striking new series--it has quickly become essential reading." ~Amy Hempel

30 review for The Best Small Fictions 2016

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This second edition of The Best Small Fictions was exciting to read; I'm more and more a fan of this form. So much can be said so effectively, so well, in a relatively small amount of words. The emotional level can still be high, the suspense taut, the landscape potentially scenic or menacing or intricate depending on the author's intent. I had a several favorite stories in this edition and they are all so different: one told from the viewpoint of a plant, one a sad story about a mother's comb, This second edition of The Best Small Fictions was exciting to read; I'm more and more a fan of this form. So much can be said so effectively, so well, in a relatively small amount of words. The emotional level can still be high, the suspense taut, the landscape potentially scenic or menacing or intricate depending on the author's intent. I had a several favorite stories in this edition and they are all so different: one told from the viewpoint of a plant, one a sad story about a mother's comb, another of a girl's summer spent at a movie studio while her mother fades away at home. My impression is that readers of these fictions will gravitate toward their own favorites, inspired by their own life experiences as well as reading preferences. There is something here for everyone. I plan to read these stories again as I know I did not not reach several of them fully--but they left me wanting to know them better, a good feeling. I received an ARC of this book from the editor. This has not influenced my review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Just about everything I wrote in my review of The Best Small Fictions 2015 holds true for the second installment of this annual series. Yet, the volume as a whole and the stories as individuals have a completely different feel to them than their predecessors do. That is no doubt influenced, at least in part, by the submissions themselves and by the final decisions made by a different guest editor. This is not to say one is better than the other: I feel the differences make each volume essential Just about everything I wrote in my review of The Best Small Fictions 2015 holds true for the second installment of this annual series. Yet, the volume as a whole and the stories as individuals have a completely different feel to them than their predecessors do. That is no doubt influenced, at least in part, by the submissions themselves and by the final decisions made by a different guest editor. This is not to say one is better than the other: I feel the differences make each volume essential reading for anyone interested in the form. In the previous volume, I was able to choose a favorite story; I can't do that with this installment. Is it a coincidence that these new favorites, the ones that hit me the hardest, are all written (I realize only now) by women? Series editor Tara L. Masih writes in her introduction that more women than men were nominated, so the odds were in their favor. The highest compliment I can pay to any work, and this holds true for each story in this book, is that it deserves a reread and that upon doing so, you will find that the rewards are even greater, more revelatory, than during the first, eye-opening reading. I received an ARC of this book from the editor. This has not affected my review. For further perusal: My review of BSF 2015

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    Some of these were great, some a little confusing, some I didn't really "get" at all. I admired most of them because short fiction seems harder to do well since economy of words is paramount. I couldn't read these quickly, since each story was packed with meaning in few words, and I could only read a 2 or 3 at a time. I will have to say that this is the first time I ever read a story narrated by a Venus Flytrap, and it was my favorite. Thanks to the publisher for sending me this copy to read and Some of these were great, some a little confusing, some I didn't really "get" at all. I admired most of them because short fiction seems harder to do well since economy of words is paramount. I couldn't read these quickly, since each story was packed with meaning in few words, and I could only read a 2 or 3 at a time. I will have to say that this is the first time I ever read a story narrated by a Venus Flytrap, and it was my favorite. Thanks to the publisher for sending me this copy to read and review. I'll definitely look for the 2017 edition. These were fun and thought provoking.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    "Readers, don’t let the word 'small' throw you off. This year’s edition of The Best Small Fictions redefines the word with writing that towers above the rest." --NewPages "The Best Small Fictions 2016 lives up to offering the best in the field. All the stories in the collection offer the reader something unique. . . . These stories show that there is much more to a short fiction than being a 'small' story. It is a craft and an art that shows that greater things can be delivered with fewer words." "Readers, don’t let the word 'small' throw you off. This year’s edition of The Best Small Fictions redefines the word with writing that towers above the rest." --NewPages "The Best Small Fictions 2016 lives up to offering the best in the field. All the stories in the collection offer the reader something unique. . . . These stories show that there is much more to a short fiction than being a 'small' story. It is a craft and an art that shows that greater things can be delivered with fewer words."--Joseph Spuckler

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (3.5) Best Small Fictions 2016 collects 45 super-short stories that stand out for their structure, voice, and character development—all in spite of often extreme brevity. Humor and pathos provide sharp pivot points. It helps to have an unusual perspective, like that of a Venus flytrap observing a household’s upheavals (Janey Skinner’s “Carnivores”), or of potential names gathering around a baptismal font (Alberto Chimal’s “The Waterfall”). Hard as it is to choose from such a diverse bunch, I do (3.5) Best Small Fictions 2016 collects 45 super-short stories that stand out for their structure, voice, and character development—all in spite of often extreme brevity. Humor and pathos provide sharp pivot points. It helps to have an unusual perspective, like that of a Venus flytrap observing a household’s upheavals (Janey Skinner’s “Carnivores”), or of potential names gathering around a baptismal font (Alberto Chimal’s “The Waterfall”). Hard as it is to choose from such a diverse bunch, I do have three favorites: Elizabeth Morton’s “Parting,” in which a divorce causes things to be literally divided; Mary-Jane Holmes’s “Trifle,” where alliteration and culinary vocabulary contrast an English summer with Middle Eastern traces; and Amir Adam’s “The Physics of Satellites,” which uses images from astronomy and a recent suicide to contrast falling, flying, and barely holding on. There are fewer highlights than in the previous volume, but this is still an excellent snapshot of contemporary flash fiction. See my full review at the Small Press Book Review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kenny Chaffin

    The Best Small Fictions 2016 guest editor Stuart Dybek series editor Tara L. Masih (reviewed from an Advanced Reader's Copy) I love flash fiction! I loved the premier release of The Best Small Fictions in 2015 and this is certainly a worthy follow-up. This time the guest editor is Stuart Dybek one of my all time favorite writers. There is definitely a bit of a different tone to this edition, a bit darker it seemed to me, many stories dealing with death and loss and disappointment. There are great The Best Small Fictions 2016 guest editor Stuart Dybek series editor Tara L. Masih (reviewed from an Advanced Reader's Copy) I love flash fiction! I loved the premier release of The Best Small Fictions in 2015 and this is certainly a worthy follow-up. This time the guest editor is Stuart Dybek one of my all time favorite writers. There is definitely a bit of a different tone to this edition, a bit darker it seemed to me, many stories dealing with death and loss and disappointment. There are great stories here though, particularly a few in the surreal vein which I certainly have a fondness for. I recently re-read Katherine Mansfield's “The Wind” and many of the surreal flavored stories here remind me quite a bit of that story in tone and feel. Pitcher of Cream by Caitlin Scarano. Of all the stories in this anthology, this one grabbed me most. It appears to be literally floating in time and space as Sherrie Flick says flash fiction should. It's the story of a 'mother' in a house and a strange boy not made of skin that shows up at her fence all set in some kind of surreal phantasmagorical setting that is not detailed but hinted at. This is one that returns to me over and over something like a haunting with creepy music playing in the background, but somehow a sense of all is okay. Mama's Comb by Dianca London Potts. Another surreal tour-de-force in miniature form. A dying mother whose blood is turning sour. Written with a wonderful touch of dialect that is perfect for the story. The comb is one mama wanted on her grave that 'he ain't never gonna find' because the girl has hidden it in her pocket. Other stand-outs for me are: Healing Time by Paul Beckman. Can a dysfunctional passive-aggressive family every actually heal? I definitely identified with much of what happens here. Worlds Worst Clown by James Kennedy. What do you do with a failed clown. These are the Fables by Amelia Gray. A story of how family fables are born and take root. Nice. The Toad by Grant Faulkner. A wonderful drabble of life, toads and oblivion. Excellent story much bigger than it's size which is exactly what flash and microfiction should do. Reunion by Megan Giddings. Inmate 144416 is released and returning home. A story of hope. Giddings is the featured author in this years anthology and it includes a wonderful short interview with her. First Night by Nancy Ludmerer. Another surreal story of a quite strange wedding night in a cabin in the mountains. This one kept me off my feet all the way through and left me that way. I keep thinking of it long afterward which is exactly what great fiction is supposed to do. Midsummer Gothic by Clio Velentza. A surreal story that left me with that amazing floating feeling. Two siblings in a bizarre landscape with a baby in the house and perhaps a dad somewhere or not. Something very strange has happened here but I am left to figure it out on my own. Overall a wonderful anthology of the year's best small fictions. The editors and readers are to be congratulated on another excellent compilation. Well worth the read for anyone interested in short form fiction – and who isn't in this day and age? But do please read these slowly, a few at most at a time, they are powerful and deserve your full attention.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I'm very honored that one of my stories is featured in this anthology. The stories chosen are of very high caliber. As I said of the 2015 edition, this anthology would be an excellent textbook for any creative writing program, especially any course that focuses on the flash fiction form. There are numerous finalist stories listed in the back of the book that I plan to check out as well. Highly recommend this collection!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Lynn Thomas

    This is a fantastic collection of small fictions, and introduced me to many new flash authors I haven't heard of. I was also impressed with the range of journals represented here--it shows that there are, in fact, a good number of presses running excellent flash fiction (if you had any doubts). The stories range from dark and creepy ("Milk Teeth" by A. Nicole Kelly; "Pitcher of Cream" by Caitlin Scarano) to the familial and domestic ("Healing Time" by Paul Beckman; "Reunion" by Megan Giddings; "T This is a fantastic collection of small fictions, and introduced me to many new flash authors I haven't heard of. I was also impressed with the range of journals represented here--it shows that there are, in fact, a good number of presses running excellent flash fiction (if you had any doubts). The stories range from dark and creepy ("Milk Teeth" by A. Nicole Kelly; "Pitcher of Cream" by Caitlin Scarano) to the familial and domestic ("Healing Time" by Paul Beckman; "Reunion" by Megan Giddings; "The Toad" by Grant Faulkner) to the politically charged and pointed ("The Herald" by Eliel Lucero). This collection is small--only 124 pages of fiction--but every story packs a punch. I didn't love every story, but even the ones that I wasn't enamored were objectively well-written and poignant stories. Good anthologies challenge you and your reading tastes, I think, and Best Small Fictions certainly does that. I will definitely be checking out the 2015 volume, and eagerly await 2017.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gene Brode

    I received a free copy of this book for review from the editor. I would actually rate this 3.5 stars if possible on Goodreads. I am a reader and writer of fiction but I am by no means an expert in either. I have only been studying the flash fiction form for a couple of years and am much more in tune with the "standard" short story form (5 to 20 pages). I love flash fiction, but sometimes it goes right over my head. While Stuart Dybek is a very well-respected author, I am unfamiliar with much of I received a free copy of this book for review from the editor. I would actually rate this 3.5 stars if possible on Goodreads. I am a reader and writer of fiction but I am by no means an expert in either. I have only been studying the flash fiction form for a couple of years and am much more in tune with the "standard" short story form (5 to 20 pages). I love flash fiction, but sometimes it goes right over my head. While Stuart Dybek is a very well-respected author, I am unfamiliar with much of his writing. Out of the 45 or so stories in the collection there were about 17 which I really enjoyed. The rest either were more like poetry (which I don't know a thing about honestly), too avant-garde for my taste, or I just didn't get them. For example the story "Hey" by R.O. Kwon, which ended too awkwardly in an attempt to be flashy. And "A New Cycle" by Nathan Leslie made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I hate saying that because I absolutely loved Tara Masih's "Rose Metal Press Field Guide for Flash Fiction" so much. That said, here is what I loved about this book. "Healing Time" by Paul Beckman made me laugh out loud, despite the sad overtones about dysfunctional families. "The California Water War" by John Brantingham displayed a kind of grown up sibling rivalry for one girl in just two pages. Deep and memorable. "Carnivores" is narrated by a Venus Fly Trap type of plant. Many of the stories have a darkness or sadness to them which drew me into the reality of life in an artful way, like "Papa, Too" by Britt Haraway, which details a happy scene between an alcoholic dad and his little girl during one of their visits. Michael Martone's story has a title slightly longer than the story itself. "Reunion" by Megan Giddings is another good one, from the perspecitve of a woman who is receiving her man back from prison, otherwise known as "Inmate 144416." The collection is diverse and enjoyable to read. It's a fast read too. I have not read The Best Small Fictions of 2015 yet and will have to check that out since Robert Olen Butler is one of my favorite authors. This is certainly a book I'd recommend for readers and writers of flash fiction alike.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Janey Skinner

    Upfront: my story "Carnivores" is included in this collection, so I have a natural bias. That said, I was so impressed with the range and scope of the stories included in this collection. There were meta-fictions of the style I might associate with Borges, and stories of suspense. There were poignant portraits of characters at a turning point, and stories that read like poems. Some of my favorites: "Trifle" by Mary-Jane Holmes,"World's Worst Clown" by James Kennedy; "Healing Time" by Paul Beckma Upfront: my story "Carnivores" is included in this collection, so I have a natural bias. That said, I was so impressed with the range and scope of the stories included in this collection. There were meta-fictions of the style I might associate with Borges, and stories of suspense. There were poignant portraits of characters at a turning point, and stories that read like poems. Some of my favorites: "Trifle" by Mary-Jane Holmes,"World's Worst Clown" by James Kennedy; "Healing Time" by Paul Beckman; "Waterfall" by Alberto Chimal; and "Mama's Comb" by Dianca London Potts. The closing story, or pair of stories, by Etgar Keret, "The Story Victorious" and "The Story Victorious, Part II," were pure delight.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sheldon Compton

    So I've written a full review of this which can be found at Enclave. Here's an excerpt and the link: "The Best Small Fictions series is officially two for two – it can boast the most important book published last year with BSF 2015 and the most important book published this year with BSF 2016. And as it continues to establish itself alongside such renowned series as Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories, this significance will not wane." http://enclave.entropymag.org/review-.. So I've written a full review of this which can be found at Enclave. Here's an excerpt and the link: "The Best Small Fictions series is officially two for two – it can boast the most important book published last year with BSF 2015 and the most important book published this year with BSF 2016. And as it continues to establish itself alongside such renowned series as Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories, this significance will not wane." http://enclave.entropymag.org/review-...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    lots of goodies here

  13. 5 out of 5

    J. Bradley

    There's a great range of flash fiction in this collection and there's a lot to like. "Carnivores" by Janey Skinner is my favorite out of the entire anthology because of how original the POV is, how it makes new an overused trope in literary fiction (which I won't tell you what it is because it spoils the story). I'm glad these anthologies exist because flash fiction deserves to be held in the same regard as great poetry, great short stories, great novels.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul Beckman

    With each story read I thought, "this is the best" and thedy all turned out to be the best. Of course I have some favorites and there were no stories I didn't like. An exceptional collection and (full dissclosure) My story "Healing Time" is in this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nan

    This book is like a mouth full of pop rocks. The stories get inside you and explode. The best is truly represented here. The arrangement was perfect. How else should you end a flash fiction anthology but with Etgar Keret's "The Story Victorious"?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    Here we have a splendid variety of short-shorts, realistic, fantastic, prose poem-ish, stories. This collection includes a healthy weight of surrealism. Some of my favorites include: "Carnivores" by Janey Skinner explores mothers eating their young, "A New Cycle" by Nathan Leslie where boys mysteriously live in a chamber filled with dogs, and "First Night" where a couple rents a home filled with snow. And then some beautifully humorous pieces: "The Physics of Satellites" by Amir Adam where a docto Here we have a splendid variety of short-shorts, realistic, fantastic, prose poem-ish, stories. This collection includes a healthy weight of surrealism. Some of my favorites include: "Carnivores" by Janey Skinner explores mothers eating their young, "A New Cycle" by Nathan Leslie where boys mysteriously live in a chamber filled with dogs, and "First Night" where a couple rents a home filled with snow. And then some beautifully humorous pieces: "The Physics of Satellites" by Amir Adam where a doctor makes a most unusual house call. In "Goodbye Piano" the narrator describes the demise of their favored musical instrument. "We smashed the piano with a sledgehammer out on the front yard. It wasn't that we hated it or wanted to teach it a lesson." You've got deliciously creepy, "Reunion" by Megan Giddings - "Jana's best friend advises her to treat Inmate 144416 like a feral cat." Don't forget, gorgeous lines: "The lawn mower has become so many things." by Daniel Aristi in "Tempus Fugit". From the first story - "Wood smoke billows from the chimney, and I'm convinced the bearded man has used too much wood again." by Rosie Forrest in "Bless This Home. And: "There is meant to be more of a ceremony, but the presiding scientists have gorged on the impatience, not merely implicit, of the gathered dignitaries and their non-political underwriters, not to mention on their own madness-tinged excitement, so the "switch" gets thrown well before the champagne arrives." - found in "Star Date (Avant-HIstory" by Laird Hunt. So many more small (yet big) stories to read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katy Haas

    The word “small” often tends to denote something insignificant, something easily overlooked. The Best Small Fictions 2016, guest-edited by Stuart Dybek, completely obliterates that notion: there is nothing insignificant about these small stories. They boom and jump off the page, impossible to ignore. Read full review at NewPages. The word “small” often tends to denote something insignificant, something easily overlooked. The Best Small Fictions 2016, guest-edited by Stuart Dybek, completely obliterates that notion: there is nothing insignificant about these small stories. They boom and jump off the page, impossible to ignore. Read full review at NewPages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meg Tuite

    This is one collection not to be missed! Brilliant work! WOW! I savored each story and let each slowly melt on my tongue! Get a copy! This is a collection to be read in classrooms. Don't miss out on reading this exceptional anthology! LOVE!!! ox

  19. 5 out of 5

    Santino Prinzi

    I received an Advance Review Copy of The Best Small Fictions 2016. Review to be published at the Bath Flash Fiction Award. Rating to follow.

  20. 4 out of 5

    CT D'Alessandro

    My reading of this book, as well as other flash fiction collections, is partly influenced by my desire to become proficient at this form. Ironically, I read this collection before putting my hands on the first volume, published in 2015. As a reader, each story is a pleasure in itself. I loved picking up this book each time I had a chance to read because I experienced that thrill of wondering what I would read next with each story. The genre itself is fascinating because it encompasses a wide rang My reading of this book, as well as other flash fiction collections, is partly influenced by my desire to become proficient at this form. Ironically, I read this collection before putting my hands on the first volume, published in 2015. As a reader, each story is a pleasure in itself. I loved picking up this book each time I had a chance to read because I experienced that thrill of wondering what I would read next with each story. The genre itself is fascinating because it encompasses a wide range of forms, bending genres in experimental mashups which, when done well, can encompass an entire narrative arc, character change or descriptive oeuvre in the fraction of the space of a short story or novel. One thing this collection does very well is to provide a representation of the range of writing that can be entertained in this short form. continued at http://ctdalessandro.com/review-the-b...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Short Story Girl

    Exquisite Storytelling I’m so happy this book of small stories is back for 2016! Every word is precise and it’s easy to see the pictures, to step inside. In that way, the smallest stories can have a giant impact and many of these deliver. Among my favorites: "Strawberry Festival," by Sophie Rosenblum, is a sensory delight, shoving our expectations against what we get. And as good small fiction does, it starts tiny and opens up to the great wide world. "Parting," by Elizabeth Morton, goes to the ex Exquisite Storytelling I’m so happy this book of small stories is back for 2016! Every word is precise and it’s easy to see the pictures, to step inside. In that way, the smallest stories can have a giant impact and many of these deliver. Among my favorites: "Strawberry Festival," by Sophie Rosenblum, is a sensory delight, shoving our expectations against what we get. And as good small fiction does, it starts tiny and opens up to the great wide world. "Parting," by Elizabeth Morton, goes to the extreme to illustrate the everyday, leaving behind the residue. “Easter, 1991,” by Vincent Scarpa, where preparing for an egg hunt after a family crisis is really about preparing to go on, and that juxtoposition leads us to more than we anticipate. “Conductivity,” by Dawn Raffel, is a masterful conservation of words evoking images with so much left lingering in the empty spaces. “Good-Bye, Piano,” by Megan Giddings, tells itself in reverse, letting go little notes of story like crumbs to follow, making clearer as we go the difference between expectation and what we get. I was provided an ARC in return for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Another year, and another edition of The Best Small Fictions! I've always enjoyed short fiction and, thanks to last year's compilation, I began to develop a new appreciation for microfiction--perhaps some of these stories could even be classified as nanofiction. As with the previous volume, the stories were nominated by literary magazines, and the final selection was made by the guest editor, Stuart Dybek. In the Foreword, series editor Tara L. Masih notes a dramatic shift in the topics and forma Another year, and another edition of The Best Small Fictions! I've always enjoyed short fiction and, thanks to last year's compilation, I began to develop a new appreciation for microfiction--perhaps some of these stories could even be classified as nanofiction. As with the previous volume, the stories were nominated by literary magazines, and the final selection was made by the guest editor, Stuart Dybek. In the Foreword, series editor Tara L. Masih notes a dramatic shift in the topics and formats from last year to the present, perhaps attributable to opening the process up to international submissions. At any rate, I found the overall quality of the stories to be excellent--this year seemed edgier, somewhat darker, and perhaps more enjoyable as a result. As I did last year, I tried to pick a few favorites and failed: it's extremely difficult to do so when the standards are so high. However, I did notice a preference for the longer works and more traditional forms, but that probably says more about my tastes than the content of the book. The topics are diverse, and range from a one-night stand with a clown to a grease fire at a Dunkin' Donuts to a well-executed narrative from the point of view of a carnivorous plant. There are stories with subtle touches of humor, others that speak to the raw desperation of people pushed beyond the limits of human tolerance, and a few that manage to paint richly detailed pictures with the barest minimum of words. All in all, I would recommend this volume highly for anyone who appreciates the short form. Note: I received an ARC of this book from the editor.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    An overall enjoyable read useful for stimulating conversation about what makes small fiction successful. I'm beginning to question the use of the word "best," though; it's such a subjective term, and I'm finding more and more that it doesn't account for as much diversity in style, content, or form as one might like to see...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Great to see so many familiar names in here & some fabulous examples of what constitutes good flash fiction. Great to see so many familiar names in here & some fabulous examples of what constitutes good flash fiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathi Crawford

    I enjoyed the brevity of the stories contained in this book. There were many very good short fictions like "The Solidarity of Fat Girls" by Courtney Sender and "Carnivores" by Janey Skinner. Some of the stories, however, left too much out to get a good sense of the character(s) and/or point of view. And, this is the challenge of short fiction -- to develop the elements of fiction in under 1,000 words (character, plot, theme, point of view, etc.). As a writer, I am exploring the short fiction genr I enjoyed the brevity of the stories contained in this book. There were many very good short fictions like "The Solidarity of Fat Girls" by Courtney Sender and "Carnivores" by Janey Skinner. Some of the stories, however, left too much out to get a good sense of the character(s) and/or point of view. And, this is the challenge of short fiction -- to develop the elements of fiction in under 1,000 words (character, plot, theme, point of view, etc.). As a writer, I am exploring the short fiction genre and was inspired to write a story while reading this book. I appreciate Stuart Dybek and the Queen's Ferry Press Editors for bringing the best of short fiction forward in this compilation and look forward to the Best of 2017 collection.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pearse Anderson

    A lovely little introduction to a community I've always seen at the periphery. This was a great resource to see who's IN and who's doing great work. But, y'know, not always amazing pieces despite being the Best Small Fictions. Best: "The Thing Built to Fly is Not a Promise," "These are the Fables," "In the Ditch, Minnesota I-35," "World's Worst Clown," and "Black." Wow! Thanks for existing, flash writers. And mags for taking their work and keeping yourselves going.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Moore

    In the second installment of this series, Stuart Dybek serves as guest editor and as anticipated the collection brims with stories that nod towards the master storyteller’s use of imagery; this preference acknowledged in his introduction to the anthology, “whatever the type of piece, there’s an attention throughout to image.” Like Dybek’s own work, these small fictions are breathtaking when small moments have larger meanings, or larger questions loom beyond the mere words presented on page. Like In the second installment of this series, Stuart Dybek serves as guest editor and as anticipated the collection brims with stories that nod towards the master storyteller’s use of imagery; this preference acknowledged in his introduction to the anthology, “whatever the type of piece, there’s an attention throughout to image.” Like Dybek’s own work, these small fictions are breathtaking when small moments have larger meanings, or larger questions loom beyond the mere words presented on page. Like, a sad and humorous take on “hours in such conversations” in Grant Faulkner’s “The Toad.” The truth behind a plant’s misguided observations on molting in Janey Skinner’s “Carnivores.” A father’s bizarre reason for plugging in dehumidifiers in Jessica Plante’s “Natural Disaster.” The morbid “blue and silent wind chime” of Vincent Scarpa’s “Easter, 1991.” A profound word play in Mary-Jane Holme’s titled “Trifle” between the worldly and the domestic. Though it would be a mistake to assume this is simply a collection of lyricism, the anthology is diverse in its styles and sensualities. From the gritty urban subway in Eliel Lucero’s “The Herald” to the dreamlike backwoods of Caitlin Scarano’s “Pitcher of Cream” these stories reflect an editorial intent in Dybek's and Masih's capable guidance to create “an anthology where writers locate their work along a continuum of infinite graduations that spans the poles of fiction and poetry, and of the narrative and the lyric.” Indeed, there is a gem for every reader in The Best Small Fictions 2016.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gerry LaFemina

    The problem with any "best of" anthology is always the question of "but what about..." that lingers. Dybek has done a good job collecting these short short fictions (though I might argue some of them are more prose poem that short short story), but many of them blur together, and few of the pieces truly linger. Still, this book is a great primer to the short short story, a genre fast becoming the new trend in short fiction.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark Wightman

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Cagle

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