Julianna Spallholz – The State of Kansas

This week at Necessary Fiction I reviewed Julianna Spallholz, a début writer, for her collection of short and very short fictions, The State of Kansas.

A collection of flash fiction is an interesting body of work to consider as a whole. Unless specifically connected, each piece must stand on its own. Must create that flash of heat and light, that lightning bolt charge between the reader and the piece. In this way, flash fiction is a more difficult form than its longer cousin, simply because it doesn’t have the leisure of multiple scenes or voice-driven explanation or layers of detail to lure a reader into the collusion needed to make a fictional world come alive.

Julianna Spallholz’s collection of short and (mostly) very short fictions, The State of Kansas, is filled with many a lightning bolt, moments when her careful assembly of only a few words quite literally shocks, burns, scratches, and dazzles. There are pieces here—miniature worlds wrought of startling images and unsettling voices —that will echo long after a reader has finished and moved on.

As I mention above, I think that flash fiction is a difficult form in many ways. I have the sense that it either works or it doesn’t – because there isn’t any manoeuvering room with such small word counts, a flash piece has to strike hard, has to surprise the reader. On the whole I think that Spallholz’s collection is a real success. Her stories are clever when they’re funny and quite moving when they’re serious.

Read the entire review here.