Daily Bookshot: ‘Flashtastic Four’



‘Flashtastic Four’, originally uploaded by Robert Burdock.

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!

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. Amy (Twitter: amckiereads)
    says:

    Hah! I love love love that title My Goat Ate His Own Legs. (I know, pointless comment, but had to say that.)

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      It’s a great story too Amy – almost as pointless as its title but very cleverly written.
      Warmest
      Rob

  2. Iris (Twitter: irisonbooks)
    says:

    I’ve never heard of “flash fiction”, but I’m looking forward to reading about the challenge.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Also known as sudden fiction or short-short fiction, it’s just a classification of an extemely short form of story – generally in the 500-750 word length category (although there’s some debate, as there is between short story -> novella -> novel, on what exact length constitutes the form).
      Warmest
      Rob

  3. Rob – thanks so much for doing this – I think it’s a terrific idea (albeit a little scary for me!).

    Really looking forward to seeing what you make of them all!

    And I love Burrett’s title too.

    Iris – flash fiction’s just a (relatively new) term for very short stories.

    Thanks again!

    Nik

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Wow, I’m honoured to have you drop by Mr. Perring. I;’m glad you approve of the Flash Clash challenge. Whatever happens it’s going to be a lot of fun.
      Errr….good luck I guess *evil grin*
      Warmest
      Rob

  4. I do – I think it’s a brilliant idea, and I’m certain it’ll be fun!

    Nik