52 Stitches: Horror Stories
edited by Aaron Polson
Strange Publications (2010)
Flash fiction is an acquired taste. For many folks, they prefer to have a story they can get into like a hot bath. They want to soak in it, revel in it. By contrast, a piece of flash fiction can be like getting doused by a bucket of ice water. And to tell you the truth, there is just as much enjoyment to be derived from that. The trick is finding those stories that resonate.
With 52 Stitches, Aaron Polson has brought together fifty-two stories that appeared on the flash fiction site of the same name. With a 750 word limit, each other was pressed to come up with an engaging story, some fully formed and stand on their own, while others act more as a window, with the reader peering in on the middle of a scene. And all of the stories range from mildly haunting to outright disturbing.
It's one thing when a site offered convenient--and free-content for prospective readers online. It's another thing when the best of that content is compiled into a single, neat book and offered to the same readers. And, when you're a lover of the tactile feel of a genuine book, an anthology like this is always welcome.
For me, there are some familiar names that appear inside this book's pages. Cate Gardner, Barry Napier, Mercedes M. Yardley, Alan Baxter, K. Allen Wood, Jeremy Kelly, and even the late Jamie Eyberg. Reading Jamie's story, "The Trouble with Gnomes," was an enjoyable experience the first time I laid eyes on it. Seeing it again in this anthology offered a bitter reminder that one promising voice was silenced far too soon last year. The book is dedicated to Jamie's memory as well, which was a noble touch on the part of Aaron.
The book also offers, aside from those names with whom I'm already acquainted, some new names that I will try to remember going forward, as they also offered some fun stories. Michael Stone, J.J. Steinfeld, and Harper Hull to name a couple. Too many names to mention, really. Fifty-two, remember?
Not all of the stories are home runs, but I found plenty to enjoy, and I'm sure anyone looking for quick, bite-sized horror will too.