LITERATURE

The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction

Rose Metal. Nov. 2020. 276p. ed. by Zoë Bossiere & Dinty W. Moore. ISBN 9781941628232. pap. $16.95. LIT
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Moore founded Brevity, an online magazine dedicated to flash nonfiction of 750 words or fewer, in 1997. After 20 successful years publishing groundbreaking work by both established (Brian Doyle, Roxane Gay) and new writers, Moore (Crafting the Personal Essay) and Zoë Bossiere (essayist, managing editor, Brevity) have selected 84 of 800 submitted essays to represent the best of Brevity. In these pieces, every word counts, and the variety of voice, subject, and technique is astonishing. There is Sonya Huber’s “The Lunch Lady and Her Three-Headed Dog” in which a woman comes to terms with her jiggly arms. A daughter copes with her mother’s memory loss in Rebecca McClanahan’s sweetly sad “The Birthday Place.” And Robert Root’s gasp-worthy “Place” is about finding yourself by losing yourself. The collection includes an alternate table of contents and resources for teachers keyed to The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction.
VERDICT There is something for everybody here, and since the writings are short, it is a perfect companion for moments of waiting. Because all of Brevity’s essays, and some additional resources, are free online, the anthology makes a useful tool for both teaching flash nonfiction and learning how to write it.

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