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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
Theodore Jerome Cohen (sometimes aka Alyssa Devine) is a storyteller par excellence, and he proves himself anew in this most recent collection of short-short fiction (aka Flash Fiction) Creative Ink, Flashy Fiction: Flash Fiction Anthology – Book 4. Cohen demonstrates that he can grab your interest from the start, engage your curiosity through a meagre 250 words or so, and land a finishing punchline that may just leave you breathless. Hyperbole? Just read his first story about a wartime British girl sitting with her doll post-Blitz. (Perhaps the most compelling of the lot.) If this story does not grip you by the throat, evoke the kind of anguish fully-fledged war novels seek desperately to produce, and leave you saddened beyond its minimalist length, you are free to turn in your human card.
Per Theodore Jerome Cohen, as stated in his introduction to Creative Ink, Flashy Fiction, the included stories are based upon single photographs selected serendipitously at random. They do not feel so random. Each photograph (presented and captioned at each chapter heading) cries out for an explanatory story. The precise story, surprisingly, that Cohen proceeds to tell. It’s uncanny. And it makes you wonder which came first – the photo or the story. From Cohen’s remarkably concise and polished writing, and his unquestionable ability to fabricate a story both meaningful and precise, one cannot be sure. One can, however, rely on this storyteller’s ability to send you to a place and time both real and altered by imagination. Where once again you might ask: which is real and which is imagination? No hyperbole. These stories are wonderful.