Flash Fiction Online – 06/2010
Edited by Jake Freivald
Review by Sam Tomaino
Flash Fiction Online ISBN/ITEM#: 1946-1712
Date: 27 June 2010
Links: Flash Fiction Online / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Flash Fiction Online is a website with very short stories, updated every month. These are reviews for their June 2010 issue.
Except for Bruce Holland Roger's story, all the stories are Classic Flash in this issue. The first one is "The Taking-Out of Tarrington" by H.H. Munro, a.k.a. Saki. A young man named Clovis saves his aunt from having to deal with a bore named Tarrington by outdoing him. This was delightful, I really have to read more Saki besides "The Open Window".
Next up, is the great Charles Dickens, with "The Artful Touch". In this delightful little story, one Inspector Wield tells a story about the quick thinking of one Sergeant Witchem in outwitting a thief.
Ambrose Bierce weighs in next with "One Summer Night". Henry Armstrong wakes to find himself in a coffin and buried. He is not too upset about this but what happens next shows why, Mr. Hartman, my 11th grade English teacher called him "Bitter Bierce".
In "Give It Up!", Franz Kafka, our narrator asks directions from a policeman who is not particularly helpful.
As I have recently worked on a certain decennial project, I looked forward to reading "Taking the Census" from the April 11, 1891 issue of Punch. It is a letter from one A. BRIEFLESS, JUNIOR (who is, of course, a lawyer) and his difficulty with filling out the Census for England and Wales in 1890. He wants to be as accurate as possible but runs into some trouble. It seems things have changed little in 120 years.
H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favorite authors, so I have read "Memory" more than once. It reflects his less-than-positive view of mankind's pace in the Universe. It does this very succinctly and with a real sting.
The next story, "Thicker Than Water" was the winner of Life Magazine’s Shortest Story Contest in 1916. As far as its authors, we are told that Ralph Henry Barbour wrote more than 100 novels, mostly sports fiction for boys. He died in 1944 and is little better known than his co-author of this story, George Randolph Osbourne, of whom we know absolutely nothing. The story deals with a heroic young boy giving his sister his blood to save her life. Barbour's novels "taught about the importance of sports, teamwork and school spirit". If this story is any example, he could write well about sacrifice, too.
The last Classic Flash is "Test Rocket" by Jack Douglas. Douglas was a comedy writer who worked for Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Laugh-in, etc. This one starts off with NASA sending out a test rocket with a mouse aboard. It overflies Mars and heads for Alpha Centauri. What comes back sends the people who sent it up for the whiskey bottle. Very nicely done!
All this is rounded out with a nonfiction article, "Let Me Repeat That: The Prose Villanelle" by Bruce Holland Rogers and a story, "Border Crossing". The villanelle is a poem that not only rhymes certain lines but repeats exact lines. A prose version does something similar. The story, "Border Crossing", illustrates that.
Flash Fiction Online will probably have new stories posted by the time you read this, but the June issue will still be available. Check them out and make a donation at www.flashfictiononline.com.