Margot Mifflin
August 16, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Really Short Stories

Current Status
In Season
Jerome Stern
Fiction, Short Stories

We gave it an A-

Finally, a short story collection for the attention-deficit-disorder set. What sounds like a gimmick — serious fiction that weighs in under 250 words — yields impressive (if overpriced) results in Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Really Short Stories. These literary miniatures range from the disturbing (Joanne Avallon’s ”All This” condenses a family history of child abuse into the second it takes a mother’s raised hand to come down on her baby) to the hilarious (Allen Woodman’s ”Wallet” describes a man’s botched attempt to foil a pickpocket). The more obscure authors here far outshine the big names like Sam Shepard and Amy Hempel (Editor Jerome Stern evidently didn’t have the nerve to tell Hempel that an inscrutable single sentence does not a story make). While it’s entertaining in its own right, Micro Fiction also serves as an introductory sampler for 53 mostly unknown writers who prove their mettle by making fictional angels dance on the head of a pin. A-

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