OK, so I know that this probably isn’t one of my most dynamic or perfectly composed Daily Bookshots, but it’s still an important one all the same. Why? Well, the four titles you see pictured here are all flash fiction collections, and collectively they are going to be the focus of a new reading challenge on RobAroundBooks called Flash Clash
Motivated by Roastbook’s upcoming publication of Nik Perring’s debut story collection, Not So Perfect (June 2nd), I decided that I wanted to do something a little different with Nik’s book rather than a straightforward read through and review. So what better than a run a little challenge to pit poor old Nik up against some of the other respected flash fiction writers doing the circuit right now. Is Nik being subjected to a bit of ‘lamb to the slaughter’ treatment? Absolutely not. I’ve heard great things both about Nik and his debut story collection, and I want to see just how well he measures up against some of these other specialists.
Who are these flash fiction pros I talk of? Let’s take a look:
- First off is is an old favourite here at RobAroundBooks, Alex Burrett. His flash fiction collection My Goat Ate His Own Legs (Burning House Books) has been out for a while now, and although I’ve read a couple of the stories from this particular collection – mainly through Harper Perennial’s wonderful Fifty-Two Stories website (Harper Perennial publish Burrett’s collection in the US) – it remains largely unread.
- Second up is a total unknown to me, David Gaffney, an English writer renowned for creating remarkable stories in the briefest of forms. If there was such a category as flash-flash stories then Gaffney’s creations would certainly come under this. The collection I read is one that’s sat on my shelves for a while now, his 2006 collection, Sawn-off Tales (Salt Publishing).
- Lastly we have a man considered to be an absolute master of the flash fiction form, Israeli writer Etgar Keret. He is renowned the world over for the quality of his fiction, and I don’t think any of the other writers included in Flash Clash challenge would correct me for saying that Keret really is THE man to beat. He has a number of short story collections I could have chosen, but for this challenge I’m using the one I’ve never read, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories (Toby Press)
That’s a quick rundown on the collections I’ll be using, but with the finer details of Flash Clash still to be worked out, I won’t be starting the challenge until the weekend at least. I do know at this point that Flash Clash will involve reading one story from each collection every day (two in the case of David Gaffney’s collection because his stories are so super succinct), and then, through the pages of my reading journal, I’ll be scoring each individual story on a scale of 1 to 5 (1/2 marks will be allowed) and passing comment on each one. In the true spirit of ‘flash’ however, I’ll be limiting myself to only giving single-word comments.
At the end of the challenge i.e. when I’ve finished reading all of the stories in each collection, I’ll total up the scores, work out an average and announce the overall Flash Clash winner, at which point kudos and undying praise will be forthcoming. After that I’ll provide a usual afterthoughts post for each collection.
So that’s the Flash Clash challenge folks! It’s coming to a RobAroundBooks near you in the next few days. Watch this space!