“For sale: baby shoes, never worn”
-Ernest Hemingway (1991)
Flash fiction is not a recent discovery in the world of literature. It has been around for generations, its genres evolving from micro-fiction and short short-stories. As a writer and a reader, I find flash fiction stories to be one of the most powerful mediums for conveying impactful storylines and character snapshots. Just a couple hundred words and you’re transported.
Most of the time, it’s the suspense and the brevity in flash fiction that makes it such a fascinating form of literature. The reader is given just enough information to spark their imagination and work together with the author to fill in the storyline. Ironically, it is flash fiction that inspires long and descriptive articles that explain the depth and message behind these short stories. I have written this article as a guide to introduce you to some of the best flash fiction collections.
Six Best Collections Of Flash Fiction Books That You Can Read Online
Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing works of flash fiction available online that you can read in one sitting:
1. Whiskey Etc. by Sherrie Flick
When it comes to one of the best flash fiction ideas ever shaped into stories, Sherrie Flick’s Whiskey, Etc. takes the cake. Flick is unquestionably a magician and a writer, with how she shapes her characters, their dreary lives and the remarkable storylines, all executed in 228 pages. These short short-stories drive home something amusing, depressing, and deep about how we’re living right now. Although the characters in her collection are fundamentally destroyed to their very core, they manage to move the readers with their hearts full of optimism.
2. As the North Wind Howled by Yu Hua
This fantastic tale, which was originally written in Chinese, centers around a man who one morning discovers a stranger banging on his door. The problem is that our narrator has no idea who the stranger is talking about when he maintains that he has come to visit his sick friend. From there, the level of confusion and bewilderment increases, reaching a humorous conclusion that brilliantly critiques the repressive nature of social duties.
3. Girl by Jamaica Kincaid
From the author of A Small Place, Girl is a masterpiece in the flash fiction genre that describes to the reader what it means to be a woman. The passage is written as a series of instructions that read almost like a stream of consciousness. Girl illustrates the numerous and near-impossible standards and measures that women are supposed to follow without batting an eye; from learning how to cook and clean to the most proper ways to present themselves in front of men. This insightful commentary about the impossible standards most women still have to meet makes this a profound yet surprisingly funny flash fiction story.
4. The Huntress [in Monster Portraits] by Sofia Samatar
A stunning and almost folklore-esque flash fiction story, The Huntress uses vague yet fascinating language to describe its namesake predator, which somehow amplifies the horror Samatar hopes to evoke in the reader. The Huntress is open to interpretation by the readers, as most argue whether the Huntress is intended as a metaphor or as a solid character. This one is unique, chilling, and irresistible to put down without finishing it.
5. Unnecessary Things [in White Walls] by Tatyana Tolstaya
Unnecessary Things, a translated flash fiction piece, is a reflection on items that do not or no longer fulfil a practical or economical purpose. This piece evokes great emotions that battle between pragmatism and sentimentality, leaving the reader with misty eyes. You may find yourself wiping a tear or two as our narrator comes upon a teddy bear that fulfils this description of “unnecessary things”, yet her affections for it still overpower her reason.
6. A Carpet Of Violets and Clover by Jenny Zimmer
If you’re looking for sensitivity and soulfulness, my book A Carpet Of Violets and Clover has beautiful flash fiction pieces, haikus, and essays that allow the reader to feel the beauty of nature, appreciate mundane experiences, and experience diverse forms of literature. I wrote each piece inspired by my own experiences. Along with flash fiction pieces, you also get poems and haikus that reflect love for nature, allowing you to appreciate the beauty around. Throughout these heartfelt and diverse literary pieces, you can find a small part of me and my soul that can make you cry, smile, and hopefully, live a little more.
Conclusion: In The Blink Of An Eye And A Turn Of A Page
Today, flash fiction is one of the most fascinating forms of literary medium. It can be incredibly challenging to write, but also incredibly fasincating when done right. To succeed in flash fiction, writers need to be able to convey their ideas effectively with a limited word count. They have to be clinical. It was flash fiction that inspired me to write my collection of short stories. However, if you lean solely toward poetry, try my book All the Moments are Real.