Tag Archives: Robert Olen Butler

An Embarrassment of Riches

3 Feb

My 3rd Fiction Friday and already I’m changing the rules. If you love model micros & fab flashes as much as I do, this post pays for my sins.

I love Daily Shorty. It’s my digital home and my digital voice, and the best way to share what I know with other writers and fans of very short fiction. But I need to reserve writing energy and time for my fiction. When I do that, I can count on delivering only one or two substantive posts per week. If I do both a Market Monday and a Fiction Friday every week, I’ve hit my max, leaving me no time, ever, to talk about anything else. So Fiction Friday will have to be a monthly, rather than weekly, feature.

best-small-fictions-2015-coverToday I’m making up for an undelivered Fiction Friday post by bringing your attention to two wonderful anthologies, The Best Small Fictions, 2015 and 2016 (well, and I see 2017 is coming soon). I was ecstatic when I discovered the 2015 collection, and it didn’t disappoint. I got 2016 for Christmas and haven’t yet read it—when I do, I’ll do a post about it. Tonight I get to talk about the 2015 inaugural edition of this series.

Robert Olen Butler is the guest editor of The Best Small Fictions 2015. His Google-able accolades are many and very shiny, but I’m a fan because his story “Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot” is one of my all-time favorites, and Severance, a collection of the final internal monologues of victims of decapitation (victims both imagined, such as Medusa, and real, such as Anne Boleyn) is a wonderful collection of micro fiction. Each micro is limited to 240 words, a number derived from the claims that (1) a severed head retains consciousness for 90 seconds, and (2) human beings think 160 words per minute when in a hyper-emotional state. Gruesome, yes, but I’ve yet to come across a more thrilling conceit.

So the man knows his shit. In particular his short shit. He proves it immediately in his lovely introduction that defines a small fiction as “a lone wolf of a lie,” and then he proves it over and over in the subsequent pages. Anyone skeptical of what very short fiction can achieve needs to read this book. But don’t let me persuade you—the stories below will do the job for me. These are a few of my favorites from the book (the first is my very favorite) that also happen to be available online:

“A Notice from the Office of Reclamation,” by J. Duncan Wiley

“Happiest White Black Man Alive,” by Dan Gilmore

How To Disassemble Your Father’s Ghost (Winter), Jonathan Humphrey

Amazing what one little lone wolf of a lie can do, yes?