Smokelong Quarterly publishes flash fiction – the whole range from plot-driven mini-stories to language-twisting prose poems. Reading a new issue is strangely addictive, a bit like opening a box of chocolates and trying to eat only a few: before you know it, you’ve eaten (or rather read) it all, the box is empty, and each chocolate tasted perfect in its own way. What I like about a Smokelong-style flash is a sense of closure, of minimalist perfection. The pieces don’t feel slight or unfinished – they feel complete. If you want to know what this flash/micro/"sudden" fiction thing is all about, check out this publication.
Issue 18, guest-edited by Mary Miller, has a dark and sleek feel, like an ink drawing of a gothic cathedral. Several flashes have religious themes, others focus on the surprising protrusions of hope. Each bit of the issue is great, but here are my personal favorites: Stuart Dybek's hilarious and touching bedroom scene, "Mole Man," Curtis Smith's "Neighbors," where the writing becomes as precise and dense as a photograph, Susan O'Neill's "Stigmata," a realist take on a gothic theme, and Jeff Landon's subdued and subtly humorous "Starfish," which is filled with loving observations.
Smokelong Quarterly also publishes brief author interviews and book reviews, all worth indulgent reading.