No time to read books? ‘Flash Fiction America’ is worth trying

Each day we are bombarded by incessant media in every conceivable form; on the radio, with podcasts, text messages, social media, blogs, downloads, emails, and commercials popping up everywhere we look, on TV, in movies, on billboards, and with every internet search engine. It never stops.

Attention spans dwindle. Rather than having conversations many of us keep staring at screens. People say they don’t have time to read full length books. Just too busy. Well, fortunately there’s flash fiction and non-fiction available for readers in a rush. A story or essay less than a thousand words long can be read in minutes.

Thirty-some years ago James Thomas was having a brainstorm when he coined the term flash fiction. Thomas, a former Wright State University professor who resides in Xenia is in this reviewer’s estimation the Grandfather of Flash Fiction. He has been editing it for all these years and has been the co-editor of all nine “Flash,” “Sudden,” and “Micro” flash fiction anthologies.

In the latest edition, “Flash Fiction America - 73 Very Short Stories,” readers can browse through super short stories by some known authors and many other writers you have probably never heard of. There’s something here for almost any literary taste. If a story isn’t working for you just flip the pages and try out the next one.

It takes skills to write stories this terse, pithy, and succulent. One of my favorites in this collection was “I’m on the Side of the Wildebeest” by Amy Stuber. It starts: “I’m with my family watching bats circle through the dusk around the upper rim of the Grand Canyon when the bank calls to ask if I’ve purchased $1,279 of perfume, liquor, and cigarettes in Montreal in the last hour.”

See what I mean? She grabs us with that first sentence. We want to read more to find out where this story is headed. She reflects that: “There’s definitely a cruelty to the fact my children’s childhood is this doomsday prophecy of climate change, micro-greens, ugly hybrids, and Trump, while mine was bell-bottoms, Twinkies, skateboarding, Soul Train, and only a shadowy sideline concern about possible nuclear war.”

She muses that “someone in Canada is drinking our liquor and smoking our cigarettes and spraying our perfume into showy clouds on every person in arm’s reach. A few days ago a herd of animals went racing away from the geysers at Yellowstone, and my daughter became convinced it meant a world-ending super-volcano was coming, and the sooner we could get to California the better.”

We wish to preserve sublime moments, that things would never change. She does: “my daughter steps out of the hot tub and jumps into the pool. She and my son float on their backs, while the sky turns a solid purple and the orange mountains are like actual arms around them. ‘Stay. Just stay,’ I say, under my breath and to every single thing.”

You have 72 more stories to explore in this collection.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at

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