Flash Fiction. We used to call them short-short stories. I always enjoyed them. There are authors that are famous for writing these brief excursions into fictional worlds. Fredric Brown comes most immediately to mind. Right after him comes Richard Christian Matheson and John Maclay. Then there was the classic anthology edited by Isaac Asimov called 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories. I loved that book as a kid.

I didn't even know what they were talking about when I first heard the term, Flash Fiction. I honestly thought it was a story done in Flash animation. No, it was my old friend the short-short story with a catchy new name. Kind of like a less widely used term for online mba degrees would be internet diplomas.

A while back I reviewed an anthology called Monstrous, edited by my friend Ryan C. Thomas. I liked it quite a bit and I pointed out several of the stories that I felt were standouts in the book. One was by a writer I had never heard of, Aaron Polson. And recently I was contacted by Polson, who informed me that he had edited an anthology called Fifty-Two Stitches It was an assemblage of flash fiction stories. The publisher was called Strange Publications.

To be honest, I wasn't that stoked. Yet another micropress with yet another anthology of stories by mostly unknown writers. Truth be told, a lot of that stuff out there isn't that great and I felt that the flash fiction form was a way for would-be writers to crank out something quick. I dreaded the idea that a lot of bad puns were in store for me. Part of me didn't want to accept it, especially with so many books on deck here that I am dying to read. But my job is not only to read and report about the established books and publishers out there, but the new guys too. Inwardly sighing, I agreed to take it on with my guard firmly up.

In the Afterword to Fifty-Two Stitches, Mr. Polson agreed with my suspicions. He stated that the flash fiction form was all-too-often a way for non-writers to try to get published. With Fifty-Two Stitches, he set out to dispel that notion.

After only a few stories in Fifty-Two Stitches, I was convinced that I was on to an exceptional book. Right from the start I was impressed, almost shocked, by the overall quality of the stories. One need not be taking an online mba course or enrolled in the top mba programs to notice that these were not quick little sloppy jokes, but thoughtful, very well-written pieces of writing.

With any anthology, some stories work better for the reader than others and that is true with Fifty-Two Stitches. Yet while a few weren't quite to my liking, there were literally no dogs in the bunch. One by one I read these wonderful little stories, constantly impressed by them. They range from surreal to scary to humorous to haunting to grotesque to experimental and the results are uniformly excellent.

As I said above, there are some that literally blew me away and a few that I felt were a little lacking. I thought about pointing them out, but then I felt that I shouldn't. Your list undoubtedly will differ from mine and the fun of a book like this is the anticipation of the next story and the surprises that they bring.

Strange Publications is a fairly new outlet and if Fifty-Two Stitches is any indication of their work, I'll be keeping a sharp eye out for what they have in store next.

Fifty-Two Stitches will cost buyers a mere $9.95 and offhand I can't think of a better bargain in the small press. I urge you to take a chance on it.

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