‘Extra-Curricular’ is Marc Nash’s fifth collection of flash fiction. Marketed by DigiWriting, very few of the pieces of flash fiction have been previously published.
This is the first time I’ve ever read a collection of flash fiction, so unfortunately I’m not really able to compare it to other anthologies. However, I’m definitely interested in reading more in this genre, so I’ll hopefully be in a better position to comment for my next foray into flash fiction!
The collection is organised into different school subjects (including extra-curricular), each subject containing a few entries of flash fiction. I thought that the links between the stories and the entries became increasingly clear as the book went on. I became increasingly intrigued as the book went on – I’m not sure whether this is because I thought the links were better, or because I had just come to terms with the flash fiction. However, if you pick this up and are put off by the first few subjects, stick with it. They get much, much better.
The stories are alternately dystopian, fantastical, and in particular with the sciences, still grounded in reality. There are a couple that are structurally experimental, which was helpful in breaking them up into separate pieces, rather than allowing them to all flow together. My favourites were those that used the most magical realism, as medicine and magic are often combined. As a humanities student, it really tickles me that my lack of understanding of the sciences can be advantageous, as the latinate names already sound fantastical to me. Nash just takes this even further.
I wish there was slightly more variation in the length of the stories. I know that flash fiction is very strict in its word count, but variation would have allowed certain stories to stand out a little bit more, and would allow more world-building, which I would have absolutely loved to see. This book is filled to the brim with sheer innovation, and I just wanted to see more! That is, until I got near to the end. Unfortunately, I think it had a rather weak conclusion. The theme of waiting for ‘Broads, Frails and Stiffs’ is rather fitting, but I just didn’t get on with the last few pieces, which was a shame, because I thought the Extra-Curricular section was very strong.
In conclusion, I would definitely pick this up if you like flash fiction. Personally, I was very intrigued by it, and will certainly continue my foray into that genre. Whether this was the greatest introduction to it, I’m not sure, but I certainly haven’t regretted my time with ‘Extra-Curricular’ at all.