Flash Fiction Stories of the Warrior

Flash Fiction Anthologies

Fiction - Anthology
182 Pages
Reviewed on 03/29/2021
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Author Biography

Theodore Jerome (Ted) Cohen is an award-winning author who has published more than ten novels--all but one of them mystery/thrillers--two books of short stories, and eight flash-fiction anthologies. He also writes illustrated storybooks for children (K-3) in the series Stories for the Early Years as well as Young Adult (YA) novels under the pen name "Alyssa Devine." During the course of his 45-year career he worked as an engineer, scientist, CBS Radio Station News Service (RSNS) commentator, private investigator, and Antarctic explorer. What he's been able to do with his background is mix fiction with reality in ways that even his family and friends have been unable to unravel!

Dr. Cohen's writings (he holds three degrees in the physical sciences) have received the highest reviews from Feathered Quill, Hollywood Book Reviews, Kirkus Discoveries, Pacific Book Review, Reader Views, and Readers' Favorite, among others, with many of his books recognized for their excellence through medals awarded by several of these same organizations following their annual book competitions. In 2017, for example, Readers' Favorite awarded Dr. Cohen's first short story anthology, The Road Less Taken: A Collection of Unusual Short Stories - Book 1, a Silver Medal while the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs (NABE) awarded the same book its Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Best in Category: Short Stories. The NABE also awarded Dr. Cohen's collection, Creative Ink, Flashy Fiction: Flash Fiction Anthology - Book 3, its Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Best in Category: Anthology - Winter, 2018.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

War informs the 56 stories of Theodore Jerome Cohen's Flash Fiction Stories of the Warrior, ranging from flash fiction to long-form short stories, inviting readers to delve into the lives of the military personnel, family, lovers, including pets that they left behind and the ones that serve in the war. 'The Falls' is the first story of the anthology-a homage to Cohen’s childhood friends-about a man who lost his brothers in WWII. In 'Doll', a dejected young French girl accepts the fact that her father won’t return as he prepares to join his troop for the Second Battle of the Aisne. A soldier recounts his harrowing experience during the Mỹ Lai massacre in 'War'. It's a hard story to read, as I feel that the victims never got the justice they deserved.

The atrocities of war and human fallibility resonate strongly as the inspiration comes from historical events. However, there are lighter, sweet moments as well as paranormal elements. Set in the fictional town of Willoughby, inspired by one of the episodes in The Twilight Zone TV series, 'Waiting' is a melancholic story of a soldier’s undying love and loyalty to his lover, anticipating her arrival at the train station. Poignant and funny at the same time, 'Survivors' is another favorite of mine where two brothers are reminiscing about their antagonism when they were soldiers. 'Drummer Boy' is a solid nod to John Lincoln Clem, who served in the Union Army in the American Civil War, while 'A Last Goodbye' is an extraordinary tale of how mistaken identity leads to a strange turn of events.

The stories contain different levels of dramatic action; some are more subtle or quieter, focusing more on the characters’ self-perceptions and emotional states. The narrative and dialogue capture a myriad of characters’ feelings, and the endnotes are helpful to shed light on short pieces that may or may not be clear vignettes to some readers. Overall, this is a wonderful and reflective miscellany from Cohen; a commendable ninth entry of the Flash Fiction Anthologies.

Michael Gardner

Flash Fiction Stories of the Warrior is a collection of fifty-six flash fiction stories connected by the theme of war, the people serving as soldiers, and the people affected by war. The stories are set in the American Civil War through to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Theodore Jerome Cohen also includes stories published under his pen name Alyssa Devine and stories that were entered in Flash Fiction Challenges, a competition run by Indies Unlimited. These stories are notably tight in their composition, being restricted to 250 words or less. Not to be confused with prose poetry, a flash fiction story has to capture all the elements of a much longer story, including a beginning, middle, and end, and a moment of change for the protagonist. Every word has to count.

Much like being a soldier on an open battlefield, there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide in stories this short. They’re not easy to write well. Working with these restrictions clearly brings out the best in Theodore Jerome Cohen. He crafts superb flash fiction stories. There’s an absolute gem of a story five pages into the book called ‘Doll’ that has so much packed into the 250-word limit. I read it three times before moving on to the next one. I would say there wasn't a single blank fired throughout the entire collection. They’re all of a very high standard. I’d also add the book is very nicely presented and includes many photos which inspired the stories. It’s a classy collection in variety and form, doing exactly what flash fiction should for the reader; making the ideas linger in your mind long after reading the story.

Vincent Dublado

Flash Fiction Stories of the Warrior is Theodore Jerome Cohen’s ninth offering of his flash fiction anthology. Cohen notes that his latest collection lends credence to what Plato said about only the dead have seen the end of war. True to his claim, these are 56 tales of brave men in uniform and others whose lives have been altered by the war. From the battlefronts of the American Civil War to the landscapes of Afghanistan and Iraq, these are socially and politically relevant stories with strong emotional resonance. Addressing heartfelt truths in the fewest words are characters dealing with profound loss. Some are short epistolary narratives that capture the mood of their times and the mien of their letter senders. In A Final Goodbye, for example, Jeremiah Peters writes a short letter to his father before boarding the steamboat Sultana. He talks about horrible conditions in a letter filled with misspellings and grammatical errors in an identifiable slang and dialect.

As flash fiction increases in popularity, it appears that Theodore Jerome Cohen devotedly responds to this demand by delivering the briefest possible stories that you digest word for word. Flash Fiction Stories of the Warrior is not plot-driven, but every story provides essential information in a compressed manner. Cohen brilliantly sketches his scenes with moments that appear frozen in time, which is why it also gives that nostalgic effect. You want to make sense of every word based on a character’s experience and perception. Cohen claims that the majority of the stories here are inspired by interesting and unusual photographs found on the Internet. The photograph of the last veteran crying while marching on a parade strikes me as something I have seen on social media before, and I can only laud Cohen for giving justice to it with his brief but profound tale. All the sad realities that war presents will forever permeate our lives and these snippets of touching stories will help you understand why.