Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Fifty Really Short Stories
by Jerome Stern (Editor)
For readers like me who prefer longer stories and novels, this one can feel a little difficult to latch onto. The “stories” are made up of not so much narratives as brief moments (which of course have tiny little stories of their own). Ironically, despite their brevity they really require quite a bit more attention than the huge panorama of a novel, where you can miss some pieces while still comprehending the whole. These require significantly more effort to appreciate, and they tend to run together if you’re not used to paying close attention. It’s counterintuitive and kind of fascinating that such short stories can actually be more difficult for those with an attention deficit.
The more I read, the more I realized that these tiny little stories were more akin to poetry — or even the Japanese koan — than to traditional prose. The level of attention required is not the only similarity. In a lot of ways micro fiction is an excellent bridge between traditional fiction and poetry, especially for those like me who have never felt themselves able (or willing) to spend the energy to truly fathom the latter.
So while I still feel somewhat baffled by these non-traditional works, I liked a lot of them and I’ll keep the collection around to reread, waiting (hoping?) for that one day when I’ll feel up to the effort of really sitting and pondering with them. Something else to recommend this collection: female authors are equally represented for a change. The stories are also the perfect length for some weird bathroom reading.