A Comet and
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,
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.
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
Some, like the runner-up and title piece Discovering a Comet by Pauline
Masurel, delve into the fantastic:
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.
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
Meanwhile, in Causality Doesn’t Work
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.
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
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
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."
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
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.
extract from one of the stories in this collection on LeafBooks.com