The Paris Review

The Godmother of Flash Fiction

Volumes of collected stories are often difficult documents. The career of any writer who has been successful enough to warrant one is likely to be long enough that there are a number of duds. They also often come after a writer’s legacy is set, making the publication more of a coronation than anything else. But neither is the case with Diane Williams, whose collected stories were recently published by Soho Press. Williams, the godmother of flash fiction, is widely unrecognized for her talent and influence; the Collected Stories, which features all of her nearly three hundred pieces of fiction, is a call to arms.

The work spans from her first book publication in 1990 to her most recent in 2016, with some previously unpublished stories thrown in. It’s nearly eight-hundred pages and includes three novellas, themselves each comprised entirely of chapters that are less than a few pages in length. The longest single story in Williams catalog is only seven pages. Most are between one and two pages. Many are only a few sentences

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