Book review: Jawbreakers – National Flash Fiction Day Anthology

Jawbreakers book coverJawbreakers is an anthology of flash fictions – ultra-short stories, none longer than two pages (and most less than one page) – published as part of the first National Flash Fiction Day, which was last week.

I only discovered flash fiction as a genre recently, mostly due to the coverage of NFFD on a few of the book blogs I follow. It’s a lovely way of telling a story, and I should imagine it’s fairly difficult to do: to distill the essence of a story, including beginning, middle and end, into as few words as possible. I’ve never tried writing any myself, but have been inspired by this collection to give it a go. Who knows – if I’m feeling brave, I may even post my attempts here…

This is a lovely little collection, full of perfect, tiny stories. Although as with any collection the quality of the writing varied, with some grabbing me more than others, but overall the standard was incredibly high. Particular favourites were Fiver, by Bob Jacobs, in which the narrator’s wife turns into a five-pound note; Ash, by Natalie Bowers, in which a woman decides what to do with the letters from her estranged father; Bar, by Nicholas Murray, in which a woman with an unusual job shows off to her date; Bee, by Emma J Lannie, which is about a bereaved woman and her young daughter; and Blackhole, by Jessica Patient, about a black hole.

I’d recommend dipping into this one rather than reading in one or two sittings (as you easily could) – it’s very easy to just continue reading page-by-page, but you get more out of these little narratives if you pause in between them to reflect on the stories. By their nature, they all contain more than their word limits would suggest. I’ve found myself going back to a few of them to re-read several times, noticing a bit more each time.

A wonderful introduction to flash-fiction. Verdict: 4/5

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