I bought this debut chapbook to support my friend in some small fragment of the way she has supported my writing for years. It then took me an embarrassingly long time to read. Then, when I meant to treat myself to these bits of flash in between working on another project, I found myself devouring it in a single sitting instead. I even happily re-read the few pieces I had previously read online when they were originally published.
I might know the author, but I know her through her writing (both as a beta reader and via social media) more than I know her through personal interaction. I adore her either way, but that knowledge made reading these flash fiction pieces even more intriguing. There’s a fine line between autobiographical, dramatization, and catastrophizing in fiction that is so rooted in reality. Even when I think I might be able to predict where each of these stories falls on that scale, Stickle is a person of such layers that I’m probably wrong even in the instances that I’m right.
Since I’m not a regular flash reader and I also adore the nontraditional, I’ll admit that my favorites in this collection are the ones with unique formatting. “Quiz: How Mature Are You?” amused me, and “Through Rose-Colored Glasses” dragged me on an unexpected and inescapable journey (despite the numerous options).
“What the Detectives Found in Her Abandoned Car” is an entire suspense novel in a single breath and packs a punch as the opener. Read it again when you’ve finished the rest of the collection because it almost serves as both prologue and epilogue for all of the women in these pieces.
Overall, I know I will always be hungry for more of Stickle’s words because she is so sparing with them in this chosen medium, but every bite is nuanced and worth more than I bargained for.
Disclaimer: I purchased a hardcopy version of this chapbook for full price. I am friends with the author, who did not ask me to review this book.