As the average attention span continues to decrease and the printed page is replaced by the teeny tiny screen, practitioners of flash fiction seem poised to take advantage of this evolution. The editors of NANO Fiction take the idea one step further. While many flash fiction narratives extend into the several hundreds of words, the stories in this volume are far shorter. The great struggle for the writer is to increase the potency of their narratives as the word count decreases.
The method of concentration chosen by most of this issue’s authors is to trade strict realism for abstract lyricism. This works quite well for poetry: another form that often prizes brevity over concrete detail. Readers who enjoy prose poems or narrative poetry will enjoy Holly Simonsen’s contributions; her tracts on the body, the soul and the XX chromosome would work just as well (or perhaps better) if their lines didn’t reach the right margins.
Dan Moreau’s story, “On Waking Up and Finding the Smallpox Vaccination Scar on His Arm,” performs an admirable alchemy. Using only a few dozen words and some strong images, he gives the reader a meaningful beginning-middle-and-end. (The story also manages to get a lot of mileage out of its title.)
In “Bologna,” Jaynel Attolini makes a number of felicitous choices. Attolini presents an interesting young character and chooses to bring life to what may be the most significant slice of her life to date. The brief story inspires the reader to wonder what transpired in the white space before and after.
The primary problem with this issue of NANO Fiction is that the journal itself is lamentably “nano.” Let’s hope the journal’s fortunes increase, facilitating an increase in page count.