Title: Twice not shy: One hundred short short stories
Editors: Laura Keenan & Linda Martin
Genre: Flash fiction anthology
Publisher: Night Parrot Press
Published: April 2021
Night Parrot Press’ second book features one hundred flash fiction stories from sixty authors across Western Australia. Edited by Laura Keenan and Linda Martin, this pocket-sized wonder book is full of local talent and brilliant stories. Naturally, Twice Not Shy: One hundred short short stories had two launch dates: the original, which couldn’t go through because of a snap lockdown in Perth in April, and the second launch that could go ahead a few weeks later in May. But when the book finally launched it was a celebration of everything that Twice Not Shy has to offer.
This collection is a deeper and more contemplative sister to Night Parrot Press’ debut book Once, but still has its moments of laughter, joy, and love. As Keenan and Martin state in their introduction ‘[t]he one hundred stories in Twice Not Shy are a glorious response to the challenges of a year pulled apart.’ The sixty authors wrote these pieces of flash fiction during the beginning of the pandemic last year and their stories really reflect the uncertainty of that time. Twice Not Shy is definitely a creation of the pandemic and in that sense it speaks to very human themes: love, longing, and connection. It’s amazing to be able to read such short stories that tackle big emotions and life events, and so often in a light-hearted manner. Reading Twice Not Shy is an experience in itself—you can pick it up for a minute or two and be taken to a whole different place in the space of a few lines.
A few stories stood out to me as quintessential flash fiction pieces. One of those was Luke Kelly’s ‘Updated Rules for the International Space Station,’ which was short, entertaining, and very funny. It details a fantastic and silly perspective about what life might be like for astronauts in space. The form of Kelly’s piece adds to its humour as you get tiny snapshots of their mischief, making the astronauts much more relatable than the stiff, smart, responsible astronauts we envision on NASA expeditions. Another stand-out story was Sabian Wilde’s ‘Death Is Not the End (of Paperwork)’ which is a quick and clever snippet of a capitalist existence after you die. It’s a great twist on the traditional heaven-or-hell afterlife, one where protagonist George Edmonds is left to exist in a way very similar to the life he just departed. I also really enjoyed Cassie Ahearne’s ‘Reflections of a Middle-aged Dollar,’ which explores life through the point of view of a dollar coin in less than thirty lines. All three flash fictions are just a fraction of what to expect in Twice Not Shy.
Night Parrot Press is a small and fairly new publisher that is determinedly showing everyone what great flash fiction looks like. The stories may be short, but that doesn’t mean they’re not full of depth and heart; Twice Not Shy is an outstanding follow on from their debut only a year ago.