5 Flash that Will Break You & 5 Flash that Will Repair You
Top 5 Stories that Will Break You & Top 5 Stories that Will Repair You
The magic of flash can be summed up in one word—feeling. Good flash will inevitably and unequivocally make you feel. Whether the emotion generated is despair or delight is not the point; it’s the resonance achieved in such a small space that is true enchantment. The lists below are not exhaustive or objective (or in any particular order) though I do hope they spur discussion and addition.
Top 5 Stories that Will Break You
- Roe Soup Dance by Tammy Heejae Lee
Lee carefully illustrates how distance can be measured not only in miles and years but also in sips of soup. Though the story only encompasses a few hours (at most), we are rewarded with the fine points of not one life, but two. Lee immerses the reader in significant details which forge a scene so vivid, so charged with subtext, that even morsels of dialogue feel like a feast.
- Tree Rot by Alvin Park
It’s rare to see scarcity translated into a lush tone. Park spends no time in the past, giving the reader no footholds for what came before this sliver. Yet, the narrator’s feelings are not obscured. They are highlighted against a backdrop of decaying nature. The singular imagery thread pulls sentences and paragraphs together—focused and tight. This creates a narrow labyrinth that leads the reader toward an inescapable end.
- If This Were a Murakami Story by Kaj Tanaka
Choosing to hang a story’s conceit on a cultural reference is a risky endeavor. And one that pays off in this literary equivalent of a Seinfeld episode—about nothing. Tanaka weaves Murakami themes throughout to underline Susan’s loss. How does one mourn the life they thought they’d have? How do they mourn it in someone else’s home? The answers’ banality is what gives this piece its tragic, relatable core.
- Vows by David Byron Queen
This piece mines the mundane moments for heartbreak. This isn’t the big fight where someone asks for a divorce. This is stretched unraveling, illustrated in anaphora, which raises tension and keeps an energetic pace. Momentum is achieved by placing the bulk of the narrative in a single paragraph. With each sentence, the reader discovers a new transgression and additional action-centered characterization. We know these people. We are these people.
- Girl by Jamaica Kincaid
A single-sentence stream unites scattered instructions into a powerful narrative. Forsaking the period in favor of semi-colons and question marks is symbolic of a relentless, unpredictable existence. The voice shifts between cold to berating and back again, with a dissonant repeating phrase. Kincaid communicates a passage of time in the changes that phrase undergoes. Two interjections (in italics) reveal a complete character that the reader can’t help but love.
Top 5 Stories that Will Repair You
- Girls of the Arboretum by Brianne M. Kohl
It’s a treat to get lost in poetic language and gossamer imagery. It’s a magnificent treat when those two elements carry the reader—buoyant and excited—through an actual plot. Kohl molds her words with beauty, but not merely for beauty’s sake. She designs a fantastical world where the flora is more akin to fauna, and a gruesome end doesn’t feel like violence. It feels like justice. Poetic justice.
- Ordering Fries at Happy Hour by Christopher Gonzalez
Though ‘LOL’ is as ubiquitous in typed conversation as ‘like’ is in verbal communication, how often does a story sincerely make you laugh out loud? An honest voice and informal language aid the humor of this piece. As the narrator’s thoughts spiral, so does the sense of urgency. It’s clear that each word is chosen deliberately to achieve that goal. There’s an indulgence here, a life within hyperbole.
- An Ugly Man by Ana Marcela Fuentes
It’s an incredible feat of storytelling to create a stunning ending, especially when the entire plot is laid out in the first sentence. Three-dimensional characters are realized here through the skillful placement of hints instead of backstory. Fuentes employs the sharp and alluring edges of nature to frame a simple narrative. She elevates a straightforward conversation, as well as the resulting action, to a monument of epic exploration.
- Between the Liking and the Pretending by Cathy Ulrich
Dotted with detail, this piece examines love with a gentle, comforting touch. The repetition of “If I were…” gives the reader an easy way out, maybe none of it is real, maybe it’s all hypothetical. The tension and conflict are generated through expectation instead of drama. And rather than moving forward in the plot, Ulrich creates a sense that we’re sinking into it, ensconced in smiling.
- How to Lay Your Edges by Crystal Valentine
Valentine spotlights a tender mother-daughter interaction. The two women come alive through specific and sensory prose. In a stream of consciousness paragraph, the reader is granted access to an intimate, bordering on religious moment. The communion is so intense you almost feel as if you shouldn’t be allowed to experience these thoughts; they’re too personal, too real. But of course, that’s exactly what makes them captivating and sublime.
Veronica Klash loves living in Las Vegas and writing in her living room. She is a Folio Award-winning essayist and a Senior Reader for Witness. Her work has appeared in such publications as Desert Companion, Cheap Pop, Ellipsis Zine, and X-Ray Lit. You can find more about Veronica at veronicaklash.com.
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