NOTHING SHORT OF: SELECTED TALES FROM 100 WORD STORY, an anthology of mirco fiction, reviewed by Amity Hoffman

A crossdressing meth-addicted Pee-wee Herman impersonator, a mail-order minister, religious bees, an inflatable girlfriend, missed connections in Antarctica, and the first children in space all have one thing in common: they only need one hundred words to tell their story. Nothing Short Of: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story is an anthology of the best micro fiction from the last six years of 100 Word Story, a literary journal born in 2011 to showcase the short fiction form. Journal editors Grant Faulkner, Lyn Mundell, and Beret Olson, have compiled the best of the best in this short anthology. In Nothing Short Of, 116 authors break hearts, provide laughs, and offer insight on the human experience.

In “A Day in the Life of Steve,” author Ashley Chantler uses noteworthy style to condense one man’s day into a series of social media posts complete with hashtags. The line “Before the internet, life must have been mad!” exemplifies Chantler’s message that we have allowed the internet and social media to dictate our lives. However, Chantler does not pass judgement on our technology-driven lives. She simply observes and allows readers to draw their own conclusions.

In “Bobby and Betty,” Molly Giles uses the story of “a good divorce” to show how materialism poisons relationships. The good divorce turns violent over a set of windchimes showing just how fickle human relationships are.

Author Lee L. Krecklow uses the miniscule form to deliver his story, “Streets at Night,” in one breathtaking sentence. “Streets at Night” resembles a night, as Krecklow phrases it, “high on inhalants and high on each other and high on ourselves, high with the confidence of a victory over everything,” and the following daybreak. Form follows content in this story, as readers feel the contact high of close proximity with the characters.

Nothing Short Of is a collection of micro fiction from 116 different authors. These micro fiction pieces are only one hundred words, each demanding conciseness without sacrificing craft. Editor and co-founder of 100 Word Story, Grant Faulkner, writes in the introduction:

To write with such brevity seems like it should be easy, but it’s not. Every word, every sentence matters. These miniature stories communicate via caesuras and crevices. There is no asking more, no premise of comprehensiveness, because the 100-word story is a form that favors excision over agglomeration.

Each piece in this bite-sized anthology is an exercise in how much the authors can leave out while maintaining a complete story. Each story captivates readers in less than the amount of time it takes to brew a cup of coffee, making the anthology easily accessible in this age of the Twitter 280-character limit. While novelists can waste whole pages, and short stories whole paragraphs, on the inconsequential, micro fiction writers force themselves to weigh every word. Micro fiction depends on an author’s ability to pack an entire story into one hundred words. The result is a nugget of pure story refined in red ink.

Nothing Short of: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story. Outpost19, April 2018. 138 pages. $12.00, paper.

Amity Hoffman is a student at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

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