by Cathryn Grant
It is hard to write good flash fiction. The space constraints prohibit any kind of real plot or character development. That being said, Flash Fiction for the Cocktail Hour does it fairly well. This is a short collection of roughly a dozen stories that are anywhere from one to maybe five or six pages in length that deal with the underside of suburbia. We tend to think of the burbs as a purified middle-class sanctuary from crime and deviant behavior, but what Cathryn Grant manages to do is use the seedy and unsavory to break down their pristine palisade. In loosely Poe-esque fashion, her short vignettes tell such tales as the murderous grandmother who disapproves of her grandson's hussy of a girlfriend or the battle between a homeowner and his impertinent, puddle-targeting newspaper carrier. They're interesting little pieces and are best consumed one or two at a time for quick entertainment. I give that last nugget of advice because I took the digested the whole work in one sitting and by the end I grew bored. That is not to say the stories or boring, but I think the constant start-a-story-end-a-story just grows tedious after a while. Most readers tend to be novel people and I think they will tend to shy away from an anthology-style work like this. However, if you're a literary reader (or if you like atypical story lines) I suggest you check this out!