Today’s team review is from Jenni.
Find out more about Jenni here https://jenniferdebie.com/
Jenni has been reading Fast Fiction: 101 Stories, 101 Words Each by Scotty Cornfield.
The title of Scotty Cornfield’s first collection, Fast Fiction: 101 Stories, 101 Words Each, really says it all. This is a collection of 101 microfictions, each purportedly exactly 101 words long (even I’m not diligent enough to check all of them, but Cornfield says they are and he seems like an honest lad), and all traversing the vast sea of topics that can be covered in that small span of letters and lines.
Mircofiction, flash fiction, the shortest of short stories, can be among the punchiest fiction out there, and yet it can be difficult to find printed collections like this. Most publishers want some thematic cohesion, a through line, in the short story collections they put out, whereas flash fiction, by nature of the beast and volume of the stories that have to be produced to put enough pages together for a meaty collection, is not going to have that cohesion. It is form that thrives on web forums and in writing workshops, not necessarily one that you see frequently in print, and yet here Cornfield is, obviously in love with the genre and, apparently, planning at least one more volume of stories, given the fact that this Fast Fiction has “Volume One” stamped at the top of the cover in red.
It is heartening to see. For those of us who appreciate brevity, and the ability to grind in to the absolute yolk of a story, a scene, a moment in time, flash fiction is an artform worth celebrating. And Cornfield does celebrate it, with stories of joy and heartbreak and mystery, stories of random happenstance and brutal miscalculation, with all that is and can be weird and wonderful in writing.
I must admit, as an editor, that there are places where I wonder if Cornfield is a little too confined by his 101-word edict. Places where the story would be served by cutting a phrase here, a line there, and thus become a 95-word story, and just the little bit tighter for it, but that is nitpicking at its finest. Overall, Cornfield’s work is sound, punchy, and fun in all the ways you want flash fiction to be. Look for particular standouts “I’m a Good Neighbor”, “He Made Work a Four-Letter Word”, and “Lessons from a Grim Reaper” for some of this reviewer’s particular favorites.
In FAST FICTION, you’ll enter a cafe where the menu is loaded with nothing but literary appetizers, designed to be quickly consumed and easily digested. You’ll meet people with secrets and others who wished they knew how to keep them; characters looking to exact revenge and others getting their just desserts when karma calls. Fans of the combo platter will see it all here, from the dark to the darkly comical; the laugh-out-loud funny to the thought-provoking; offering more twists and turns than a pretzel—more ups and downs than a soufflé.
Like the world of improv, each tale has been inspired by a prompt (a single word or a phrase) provided by readers. From those simple suggestions, the stories evolve. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, but they’ll all have at least one thing in common: Your brief encounter with them will be over in less than a minute. Welcome to FAST FICTION,where you’ll find 101 stories of exactly 101 words each. How’s that for symmetry?