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Ten years ago, Jerome Stern, director of the writing program at Florida State, initiated the World's Best Short Short Story Contest. Stories were to be about 250 words long; first prize was a check and a crate of oranges.
Two to three thousand stories began to show up annually in Tallahassee, and National Public Radio regularly broadcast the winner. But, more important, the Micro form turned out to be contagious; stories of this lack of length now dot the literary magazines. The time seemed right, then, for this anthology, presenting a decade of contest winners and selected finalists. In addition, Stern commissioned Micros, persuading a roster of writers to accept the challenge of completing a story in one page.
Jesse Lee Kercheval has a new spin on the sinking of the Titanic; Virgil Suarez sets his sights on the notorious Singapore caning; George Garrett conjures up a wondrous screen treatment pitch; and Antonya Nelson invites us into an eerie landscape. Verve and nerve and astonishing variety are here, with some wild denouements.
How short can a Micro be, you wonder. Look up Amy Hempel's contribution, and you'll see.