My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“Byte-Sized” is a collection of various pieces of flash fiction from an assortment of various authors. I wish I could say that I loved this compilation, but there were really only a few stories that really caught my eye in this particular compilation. Most of the stories were weird or underdeveloped and didn’t really catch my eye, nor my sentiments with them, but there were definitely three that I really enjoyed and don’t mind sharing my reflections upon.
My favorite piece was, by far, “A Tree Grows in the Subway” by Diana Peterson. I honestly didn’t know that the writer worked on NBC’s “Life” or “The Good Wife” as far as her background was concerned, but the story is about a tree that suddenly appears in the subway, starting from the perspective of a little boy and then branching (no pun intended) out to a group of curious onlookers and spectators. The tree starts as a leaf and grows to the point where it impedes travel, but then it recedes in quite a rather beautiful depiction of imagery given in the author’s prose. This is the kind of quality I expect in flash fiction and I loved how the story drew me in, just as curious as the people gazing upon the tree.
Another story I really enjoyed was “Tying Up Loose Ends” by Diane Brenner. This story was actually rather interesting in a two fold way. First we’re introduced to a little old lady who pushes a man in front of an oncoming subway and he dies. Now I know what you’re thinking – “That’s messed up and morbid”, but it was a Dexter-esque story considering this lady had been at work doing a string of vigilante killings for criminals who deserved it and were getting away for their crimes. All of this while the lady doesn’t have much time to live and (with the subway man’s death) had just committed her last crime. There was a nice twist at the end to the lady’s identity as well.
The last story ranking among my favorites in this compilation was MUNI 19, Tuesday, 7:45 AM, by Jennifer Virskus, which tells of a random encounter between a man and a fourth grade boy. I found it rather amusing considering it depicts the exchange from the man’s perspective and then shows the exact same scenario from the perspective of the boy. I found their internal dialogues to be funny.
Honorable mentions go to “Under a Meteor Shower” by Ben Bellizzi and “Pine Field” by Jean Medeiros, who both drew me into their respective narratives, the former of a speaker witnessing a meteor shower, the latter depicting a young protagonist being abducted by an odd party.
The remaining stories were of variable quality, and while I think some may find enjoyment with them, I wasn’t necessarily taken or drawn into them as much as I would’ve liked for the flash fiction pieces. Still, it was worth reading and I would encourage people to check the compilation out for what it’s worth.
Overall score: 3/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher FictionBrigade.