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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Only 17 cents

    That’s the price per story if you invest in the classily packaged box set “”One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box.”” This new collection of flash fiction contains three hard-cover books of short-short stories: “”How the Water Feels to the Fishes”” by Dave Eggers, “”Minor Robberies”” by Deb Olin Unferth and “”Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape”” by Sarah Manguso.

    And even with some of the stories spanning only two lines, it is very possible that this is the best bargain in the history of writing. Each author has a unique take on the short-short story, but none disappoints.

    “”One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box””

    Multiple authors ðð- McSweeny’s
    List price $25
    www.amazon.com
    Rating: 5 stars!!

    Eggers, author of “”A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”” and perhaps the most well known of the three, is as absurd and hilarious as readers could hope, even in such a short space. The title story is a fine example of how Eggers can take situations from out of this world, like conversing with fish, and tune them to be poetic and beautiful, using similes (“”like the cleanest tooth””) to explain the feeling of water on scales. Eggers mixes such strange situations with musings on more mundane, everyday life, but in each story, he manages to leave the reader with something more to ponder.

    This is true of each of the authors, who demonstrate the clout that a single sentence can have. Though Manguso’s stories tend to leave the reader on a note of loss or sadness, they stay sharp in the reader’s mind long after. Her short-shorts seem to concern the same character, a young girl, each time, and, accordingly, her collection has more of a sense of connection between one page and the next.

    Deb Olin Unferth writes the longest stories of the three, avoiding one- or two-line pieces. She seems to enjoy using lists in her fiction, and “”Things That Went Wrong Thus Far”” is a good example of her success with this form, detailing the rather miserable road trip of a married couple. Unferth also has a knack for shortening lives to fit in single paragraphs, a skill she uses to artfully describe a host of dead composers, and to condense a novel into a series of single-word headings.

    “”One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box”” might sound like more stories than you could ever read, but slip one of the minute collections into your pocket. It’ll be read within the day, with the briefly touched lives of these characters remaining with you for much longer.

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