Discovering A Comet and More Micro-fiction
 Anthology

Leaf Books, 2008 Paperback
First anthology? No

Authors: Freda Love Smith, Pauline Masurel, Freda Love Smith, Casey Parry, Rich Hough, Margaretta Jones, Lorraine Cave, Rosie Garland, Maureen Gallagher, Helen Pizzey, Andrea Davies, Gavin Eyers, Jon Prawer, ouglas Bruton, Mary Pooley,  Andrea Tang, Christine Genovese, Robert Lankamp, Keith Souter, Lloyd Markham, Laura Tansley, William Letford,  Amy Mackelden, Christine Todd, Peter Meredith Smith, Karen Jones, Ruth Harris, Mo Singh,  Sara Benham







"Then I’ll stand in the middle of the crossroads, with this book in my hand, and whichever road I take will be the right one."

Reviewed by Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau


Reading flash fiction is like looking through the lens of a space telescope. You’re focused on just one small spot, but the longer you look, the more you see layers and layers, unfolding. I’ve found that the best flashes can transport you, or at least give you a glimpse to another world, while others leave you wondering what it is you’re really looking at. Discovering a Comet and More Micro-Fiction has a mix of both.

Each story takes up a single page, so it’s easy to read several or more at once. And with 36 winning entries from the 2008 micro-fiction competition by Leaf Books, there’s bound to be something to suit anyone’s taste.

Some, like the runner-up and title piece Discovering a Comet by Pauline Masurel, delve into the fantastic:

"Imagine this: coming downstairs on a winter’s morning to find that someone has shoved a tiny comet through your letterbox. Unwanted celestial light has faded the dado rail and a montage of family photographs is all askew from the eccentric orbit that it’s assumed, on an axis from the umbrella stand to the cloakroom door."

Indeed, what would you do if this happened? Here, the discovery is two-fold - first, of the comet, and second, of one’s attitude in dealing with such an unusual, unexpected and apparently unruly object.

In Curiosity, a fresh and fun story by Karen Jones, the narrator also deals with the unexpected. In this case, it’s that of seeing a grape in a stranger’s hair.

Meanwhile, in Causality Doesn’t Work Like That by Rich Hough, the unexpected is what happens when one’s past self meets one’s future self at a bar, and decides to play the lottery.

Some stories deal with loss, but in different ways. In A Precious Possession by Margaretta Jones, for example, a mother is more bothered by losing an expensive pram than by the thought of losing her child. It would be easy for her to come across as horrible, but she doesn’t.

Light, by Gavin Eyers, examines the loss of years, but not of spirit. It’s just nine sentences, but you don’t feel the need for more. The ending is satisfying and poignant.

Meanwhile, in Infested by Stewart Tiley, the narrator reminisces about that special time when he once had shoes. It’s an excellent example of that cardinal rule in writing: "show, don’t tell."

There’s even a periodic piece—Keith Souter’s Satisfaction, which tackles valor and revenge in historic France. Also, a piece based on a fairy tale - Hubris, by Casey Parry, which casts new light on Prince Charming’s heroism.

One of my favorites, because I love art and because I found the story unexpected yet truthful, is Bad Apples, by Karen Jones. In it, the narrator finds that painting people is easy. It’s bringing still life to life that’s hard. Other good pieces include What Stinks by Lorraine Cave, The Bob Dylan Story by Freda Love Smith, and The Street by Mo Singh.

And of course, there’s the winning piece, Jesse and Jesus, by Freda Love Smith. What I liked about this one is that demands you to think, not just about the story, but also about the underlying theme. And it acknowledges that, like life, perhaps there are no real answers. As the protagonist likes to say: "Learn to love the questions, baby."

Some of the stories, however, didn’t really speak to me. I either didn’t feel the need to read them again, or read them repeatedly and in the end, didn’t feel anchored enough to imagine the bigger story behind the scene.

Overall, I’d say Discovering a Comet and More Micro-Fiction would be a good book to take with you somewhere, to read in little chunks, or over a lazy weekend. While it didn’t really pack the emotional wallop I’ve come to expect from a compilation of winning entries, it’s interesting and eclectic enough, especially if you like reading competition anthologies.


Read an extract from one of the stories in this collection on LeafBooks.com


Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau wants to explore the world by foot, pen and lens. Raised in Manila, she lived for a time in Los Angeles before moving to France. A Pushcart Prize nominee and 2008 Sean O’Faolain Short Story Competition finalist, she has stories in places like The Humanist and Southword.
Michelle's other Short Reviews: Matty Stansfield "Donut Holes: Sticky Pieces of Fictionalized Reality"

Stephen Shieber "Being Normal"
                     
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