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Gregor Xane

I prefer science fiction, fantasy, and horror without the spaceships, dragons, and zombies.

Crots, jots, knots, bon mots

28 Far Cries - Marc Nash

The flash pieces in this book are like ZIP files that need to be unpacked.

No. That's close but not quite right.

This book is like a display case filled with 28 finely crafted, exquisitely detailed miniature sculptures. You have to pick each one up in turn, examine it on its own while lying on a hammock for a while, before returning to the case to pick up another. After reading one or two of these pieces, I decided to take my sweet time with this collection, and I'm glad I did. You could read this in an afternoon, I suppose, but I wouldn't recommend it. These flash fiction pieces have drag. (And somehow I mean drag as in the longitudinal retarding force exerted by air or other fluid surrounding a moving object.) There are little gnarly bits sticking out of these stories that you should allow to snag your attention. You should take some pleasure in examining the embedded hooks. You can tell the author has worked and reworked these pieces, grabbing different disparate bits over time and mashing them into place, working them in, rubbing and rearranging until they work.

Nash is playing with language here. That seems to be his main focus. He likes obscure and archaic words, and especially words or phrases with double or triple meanings. It was fun to see how he'd mash ideas together, reconcile juxtapositions, flog a pun to death, turn concepts inside out, and meditate on a peculiar concept until it nearly breaks under his scrutiny. In addition to inspecting the meaning of words, Nash is also obviously obsessively concerned with the sounds we make when we speak them. There is a rough rhythm to these pieces, a lot of hard consonant sounds that pop and crack and jolt and jar as you go.

This collection isn't for everyone. Many of the pieces aren't proper stories. Many are more like inspections of objects and concepts at a microscopic level. Yes, you will find stories in this thing, but there are plenty of chunks of writing therein that could just as easily be labeled anti-story. If you think you might like that sort of thing, give this a go. I had fun reading it. But, admittedly, it was less the pleasure one usually associates with reading and more the kind of fun one has while solving puzzles.