Brevity

A Flash Fiction Handbook

David Galef

Columbia University Press

Brevity

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Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231179690

160 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $25.00£19.95

Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231179683

160 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $75.00£62.95

Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231543132

160 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $24.99£19.95

Brevity

A Flash Fiction Handbook

David Galef

Columbia University Press

In Brevity, David Galef provides a guide to writing flash fiction, from tips on technique to samples by canonical and contemporary authors to provocative prompts that inspire powerful stories in a little space. Galef traces the genre back to its varied origins, from the short-short to nanofiction, with examples that include vignettes, prose poems, character sketches, fables, lists, twist stories, surrealism, and metafiction. The authors range from the famous, such as Colette and Borges, to today's voices, like Roxane Gay and Bruce Holland Rogers. A writer and longtime creative writing teacher, Galef also shows how flash fiction skills translate to other types of writing. Brevity is an indispensable resource for anyone working in this increasingly popular form.

For more information, see davidgalef.com/brevity.
If I had to choose just one book for my class in writing flash fiction, it would be this one. Practical, direct, wonderful examples, fun to read—if this book doesn't energize your writing, nothing will. Robert Shapard, coeditor of Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories
Brevity represents a useful addition to the range of current creative writing texts, combining an anthology of flash fiction with an analysis of the subcategories within the form and writing exercises that will inspire students. Galef's witty, welcoming tone will appeal to beginning and intermediate writers. Often, I felt so inspired by the prompts that I wanted to sit down at my computer and try the exercises myself. Eileen Pollack, author of A Perfect Life: A Novel
Brevity is a thorough introduction to the form, offering a variety of strategies for composition, as well as a wide-ranging, international anthology linked to each chapter's focus. A relentlessly generative, eclectic, instructive, entertaining, and motivational text. Michael Martone, author of The Flatness and Other Landscapes
Galef is an excellent writer, and the book throughout is a delight—he makes the reader want to immediately start writing.... He provides deft insights and suggestions on editing... and he suggests techniques that work well when applied to a small text. Best of all, each chapter provides examples of great flash fiction—from authors as different as Saki and Steve Martin—as well as ideas for readers to explore. Publishers Weekly
Acknowledgments
A Short Introduction
Vignettes. Readings: Colette: "The Other Wife"; Isaac Babel: "An Incident on the Nevsky Prospekt"
Character Sketches. Readings: L. E. Leone: "The Argument for a Shotgun"; Josefina Estrada: "The Extravagant Behavior of the Naked Woman"
Letters. Readings: Yasunari Kawabata: "Canaries"; Phil Karasik: "Mickey the Dog Phones Home"
Diary Entries. Readings: Will Stanton: "Barney"; Mark Budman: "The Diary of a Salaryman"
Lists. Readings: Sei Shōnagon: "Annoying Things"; Steve Martin: "Disgruntled Former Lexicographer"
Fables. Readings: Anonymous: Untitled; Raphael Dagold: "The Two Rats and the BB Gun"
Anecdotes. Reading: The peasant and the genie
Prose Poems. Readings: Yusef Komunyakaa: "Nude Interrogation"; Len Kuntz: "Story Problems"
Soliloquies, Rants, Riffs, and Themes. Readings: Christine Byl: "Hey, Jess McCafferty"; John Edgar Wideman: "Witness"
Perfect Miniatures. Readings: John Collier: "The Chaser"; Jeffrey Whitmore: "Bedtime Story"
Intermission: Cutting Down. Bruce Taylor: "Exercise"
Surrealism. Readings: Richard Brautigan: "A Need for Gardens"; Donald Barthelme: "The Baby"
What If? Readings: Wayland Hilton-Young: "The Choice"; Dicky Murphy: "The Magician's Umbrella"
Genre. Readings: Roxane Gay: "The Mistress of Baby Breath"; Tara Orchard: "My Love"
Setting. Readings: Bharati Mukherjee: "Courtly Vision"; Alice Walker: "The Flowers"
Twists. Readings: Luisa Valenzuela: "Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye"; Saki: "The Open Window"
Two Viewpoints. Readings: Robert Schipits: "Dialogue Between Two Teenagers, One Interested in Cars and One Not"; Ryan Ridge: "Shaky Hands & All"
Mass Compression. Readings: Bruce Holland Rogers: "Dinosaur"; Susan O'Neill: "Memento Mori"
Metafiction. Readings: Ptim Callan: "Story"; Jorge Luis Borges: "Borges and I"
Vanishing Point. Readings: Merilee Faber: "We came around the corner"; Dean Clayton Edwards: "It was pretending"; Davian Aw: "She raised the glass"; Augusto Monterroso: "The Dinosaur"
The Future
Conclusion
Bibliography
Permissions
Index

Read the chapter, "Perfect Minatures":

  • David Galef imagines his book Brevity as your friend, teacher, mother & more in Monkeybicycle's "If My Book" column
  • Write your own flash fiction story using a prompt featured in Poets & Writers

About the Author

David Galef has published over a dozen books, including the novels Flesh, Turning Japanese, and How to Cope with Suburban Stress; the short story collections Laugh Track and My Date with Neanderthal Woman; and the short story anthology 20 Over 40. He is a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University.