Trend Watch: Mini Books and Microfictions

We’ve been noticing a growing trend in micro-fiction in recent years, and particularly in recent months: in fact, two of the books on our list of new must-reads for December fall into this category, so we thought we’d better take a look at it.

Flash fiction or micro fiction is usually described as fiction under a thousand words, though much of it is much shorter — in fact, many traditions of flash fiction have self imposed word limits, like the popular 55 Fiction form. There are reigning masters of the field, like Julio Cortázar and Fredric Brown — and of course, everyone knows the most famous piece of micro fiction, supposedly penned by Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Though the form has been around for a long time, it seems to be having a moment. This past year, we became obsessed with a literary journal devoted to the form, Esquire held a flash fiction contest judged by Colum McCann, and several books of tiny fiction have caught our eye. Click through to check out some of our favorite examples of micro fiction from the recent past, and let us know what you think in the comments.

420 Characters, Lou Beach

Here’s a very current take on the micro fiction trend: the wonderful hallucinatory collagist Lou Beach has created a book of stories that originated as Facebook status updates — which means forcibly constrained to 420 characters or less. Like any good collection of flash fictions, however, each of Beach’s tiny stories stand up on their own two legs, each their own crystalline feeling, taste, or moment. Yes, some of them are as weird and witty as his art, and yes, that’s a good thing.