The River by Jeff Fearnside, Crab Orchard Review

This is a short piece, maybe even a vignette, that is a story within a story. The narrator is a young woman who recounts story her uncle told her long ago, one that takes place in the soviet union. In the recounted story a young woman wears chadra and tries to cross a river. She is weighed down so much by her clothing that she drowns. The narrator identifies with this woman, as she says, they are much alike, though the girl in the story is Muslim.

The narrator goes on to relate how the weight of the chadra is much like the weight of our society. It is sandwiched in among descriptions, but at its core, this piece shows how the garments we wear dictate our place within our culture.

The fact that this woman drowned due to her chadra, is symbolic of her cultural capital in the era in which she lived. The narrator identifies with this, as she feels trapped/drowning in metaphorical ways.

A short piece that accomplishes a lot and is well written. (C+)

Sooth by Laura Rikono,

As a flash piece, this is very successful as a dark fairy tale. The protagonist makes an appointment to see some type of prophet. I think he/she/it is the embodiment of the sea. There are rules the protagonist jumps through to get this meeting, once “you” are there, you have precious little time.

This piece is written in the second person, but it doesn’t feel jarring, it works. The instructions the protagonist must adhere to are also presented well, and this piece gets a lot done in few words. The ending was a little bit puzzling, but that’s also what makes interesting flash fiction. It allows readers to imply their own, inviting readers to participate in the creation perhaps a little more than in longer forms.

Jan 14th, 2018, A List of Forty-Nine Lies by Steven Fischer, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2018

This story is what it says it is. It is not false advertisement. It’s a flash fiction piece, as such, but does a lot of work as a series of lies that inform readers of not only an oppressive world government but also why the narrator would go to the lengths he does to help overthrow said government.

The interesting part of this piece and one I think is commendable is the risk of using negative statements to tell a story. The number of negative statements in this piece could have bogged it down, could have destroyed any specificity in the piece, distancing readers from the narrator’s reality. However, this is not the case. Instead, the author uses the negative statements to show how the narrator is fundamentally opposed to the regime in power. This works because of the shortness of the piece. In anything longer, I think the negative statements would have dragged it low, but since the piece is under two pages, it feels contained and tidy and doesn’t overload the reader. A top rate piece of flash fiction. The only reason I’ll give this a (B) is due to the fact that I don’t think flash pieces can earn much more than that in terms of form, just because the emotional connection can’t be formed with readers like in a longer piece. (B)