And I’m back! A cold has kept my family out of the game for this Lunar New Year weekend, but we’re all feeling better now.
It’s time to start a new feature that I’ve been planning for a while now – Flash Reviews of Flash, where I try to keep my usually wordy reviews down to a few sentences per story!
This first installment will focus on Every Day Fiction, during the week of January 26 – February 1. It was an excellent week, with very strong examples of writing each day:
A sad slice-of-life about growing up. I agree with one comment that asked about Annie – what did she do with her life? Did she keep her innocence, or did she become like Bugsy? A little more about her would have helped the ending. I was reminded of Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin – it’s a pretty common story of how growing up can leave behind the meaningful people in your life.
3.5 / 5 – It was rich and poetic, but I felt like I’ve read this story many times before.
The contrast of good Constance versus the panicking passengers clearly set up her piousness at the start. It was a nice red herring – the reader might have expected her to find out she wasn’t so great. There was also a moment when I wondered if God would actually give a reason (other than ’42’) – but that bullet is dodged. The ending seemed flat to me at first, but I understood that the author used it to convey Constance’s (and humanity’s) disappointment .
4 / 5 – I wondered if the ending would have been stronger if He had just said there was no reason, but the imagery of heaven’s residents moving AWAY from God was a great wrap-up.
Tuesday Jan 28 – Captain Quasar and the Coliseum of Queen Kronikthalia – Milo James Fowler
Humourous, self-aware writing that both parodies and pays tribute to retro, pulp sci-fi. I loved how Quasar defeats an oversized cat by blowing a raspberry! As much as I loved the twist of Quasar bringing down the rations to the giant cat, it was a bit odd (there are still starving villagers out there!) I found it a bit odd that Queen Kronikthalia let Captain Quasar live to feed the villagers, when she would have been okay with Quasar killing them all just a bit before.
4.5 / 5 – While I thought the antagonist gave in a bit easily in the end, the overall story was just too fun to complain about much.
Wednesday Jan 29 – No Alligators in Virginia – Oscar Windsor-Smith
This piece was a bit rough in setting up its premise. While I understood that the MC’s ex-relationship had to be dealt with quickly, lines like “She would rather have the company of real alligators than the foul-mouthed reptile the man she’d once loved had become” seemed like telling – I would rather have had some quick interaction between Mike and the MC to show how bad he was. Aside from this minor point, I found the story simple and brisk, with a nice use of poetry to set the mood. I loved the use of subtlety, especially in the line “She grinned like a contented cat. Mike Elwin was also a liar” so much is shown here, without much telling.
4.5 / 5 – Minor roughness aside, this piece is well-written. It shows simple, effective prose and imagery, with a nice dash of humour sprinkled in.
This story is vivid and visceral. I had trouble understanding the MC’s cowardice at first, but I understood him to represent the way most people would react, whereas Chepi was the exceptionally brave hero. We know from the start that Chepi is dead, so the story becomes more about the MC’s self-torture – he thinks his cowardice lead to her end. The resolution that she never lost her spirit, while also caring for the estranged MC, clearly shows the reader why the MC respects her so much.
4 / 5 – Vivid, quick, and moving. While I had was a bit thrown by the MC’s actions at first, I was left wanting to know so much more about the story’s world.
The poetic style of this prose is sprinkled with nice hints of the twist in the story. I loved how Megan’s cheeks turn pink when the dark-eyed man sings, and other signs like when she bites her lip, and when she shows off the same look she wears when she’s naked. The sexual imagery really comes through in lines like “Offered up her voice and the bass slipped into it”, “Entwined in one last, long climactic breath.” This all leads to a strong ending – I could really feel the MC’s gut twist at the revelation after suspicion has been worming through him. Whether its all in his head, or she has not only cheated on him but had another’s baby, the result is clear – The MC hasn’t spent enough time getting to know his wife, and he’s lost her.
5 / 5 – While the MC’s thoughts may have benefited from some pruning, the imagery and vividness of the prose is solid.
This is a quiet, sad literary piece. I was confused over why Aidan didn’t call Sheena back – I understood that he was angry at Dr. Patel for blocking the relationship, and at Sheena for not standing up to her, but it struck me as a bit petty. Also , Aidan had Sheena on the pill, but what precautions was he taking? Still, the piece is poignant, especially the touch of Diana as the baby’s name along with the revelation that Aidan as the MC’s name.
4 / 5 – While I was a bit put-off by the MC’s behaviour, this a powerful and moving story overall.