This lit mag specializes in flash fiction and publishes stories on a regular basis nine months of the year. Then they publish their Top 50 selections: fifty short fictions that come from other journals. Several editors from Wigleaf routinely monitor what is being published throughout the country, select the two hundred they like best, and send these stories to another editor who chooses the fifty he judges to be the best of the best. A wearying process to be sure, but it makes for some great reading.
My favorite among the fifty was “Flies” by Roy Kesey, published by Hobart, about a little leaguer who actually hates baseball and prefers to catch real flies in right field rather than the ones hit to him. The author gives us a riveting description of the child’s attention focused on a fly buzzing around him while the game is going on, and when the inevitable crack of the bat sends a ball flying his way, he is hardly prepared. The last paragraph gives a denouement that is just perfect for flash fiction, a splendid ending.
“Hail Vulgar Juice Of Never-Fading Pine” by Kevin Wilson, published by Juked, presents the sordid tale of a young man who watches his father change dramatically upon the death of his mother. Parties are thrown in which people dress up in bizarre costumes and drink peculiar concoctions such as tar water. “The drink tasted like roofing tiles, sun-baked and soft, and I tried not to gag.” In the end a change comes over him that he and the father may eventually regret.
Another very good story is “Ankles” by Tai Dong Huai, published by Thieves Jargon, about a young girl who is trying to impress a boy she really likes at the swimming pool. “You’ve known about this possibility and you’ve hoped for it. You’ve worn your one-piece swimsuit under your t-shirt and cut-offs. You’ve brought a towel, an eco-friendly one, the one made from organic terry cotton. And you’ve packed sun block – Bull Frog SPF 45 – even though you never, ever burn, hoping he might ask to rub some on your back.” Unfortunately, the poor child makes a terrible gaffe. Wonderful writing here.
I would be remiss if I did not mention “Intercourse” by Robert Olen Butler, published by Vestal Review, about the last night on earth of Attila the Hun, with his new bride, Pannonia. “A sudden warmth deep in my throat like the bloom on the chest of an enemy as the arrow flies in and I cannot draw a breath and I lift up and try again and again…” Great stuff.
It is an accepted fact that the attention span of Americans is shortening. Therefore, flash fiction may be the future. If so, then Wigleaf is a good place to learn about this phenomenon. [www.wigleaf.com]