THOMASIAN writers are among 68 of the country’s finest creative writers included in Fast Food Fiction Delivery, an anthology of flash fiction published by Anvil Publishing and edited by fictionist Noelle De Jesus and poet Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta.

Flash fiction is a literary form where the writer has only 500 to 1500 words to utilize in creating a story. With this strict word-count requirement, plot, characterization, dialogue, and description are condensed without compromising the quality of the work. In the anthology’s preface, de Jesus notes the timeliness of the flash fiction form. People are now looking for literary works that match the kind of digital, fast-paced world that they are in. “All the rage these days are iStories,” she writes. “[A]ll short little beats, spreading like rapid-fire glimpses and blinks of eyes across the web."

Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS) and former editor in chief of the Varsitarian, contributes the story, “When It’s A Grey November In Your Soul,” where the grieving narrator comes to grips with the death of a friend.

In “Before Noon,” Augusto Antonio Aguila, resident fellow of CCWLS, depicts a sick, aging man abandoned by his wife and two daughters. Without anyone to turn to, he does something that injures his pride.

Meanwhile, Palanca award winner Carlomar Daoana, a former editor of the Varsitarian, recounts a wedding day in “Tulle, Chiffon, Organza,” which exposes the bride’s ambivalence towards the choices she has made in her life, including her own marriage.

Former Varsitarian managing editor Brylle Tabora’s “Spaghetti” narrates the protagonist’s estrangement from his family after revealing a closely guarded secret.

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Stories in the anthology meditate on grief, memory, love, sexuality, and family dynamics. The careful, almost cerebral handling of these topics produce divergent results, as the protagonist in Hidalgo’s story is absorbed by her grief and her need to make sense of her loss, while Justine Tajonera’s character in “Our Lady of the Abandoned” copes with her personal loss by allowing her maid to stay with her despite the latter’s pregnancy.

Strained family relations are also a recurrent theme, including a young girl envious for the parental attention showered on her infant sibling in Anina Abola’s “Discovery,” and strained, even bitter relations between father and son in “No Returns” by Clinton Palanca. Lastly, Corinna Esperanza Nuqui writes about three sisters living a stultifying existence under their mother’s stern upbringing in “How the Macopa Came to Be.”

In Sandra Nicole Roldan’s “Some Facts Remembered from Five Years Ago,” a rape victim rationalizes her traumatic incident, and in Cyan Abad-Jugo’s “Earth-bound” and Jhoanna Lynn Cruz’s “Never Again,” the evident unease of women in maintaining intimate relationships with younger men is depicted.

Despite the complexity of relationships tackled in the stories, the contributions hewed closely to the 622-word limit imposed by the editors. The self-imposed laconic style of writing does not sacrifice well-rendered details that contribute to flash fiction’s power.

Despite the brevity, there is no sense of absence in the reader. The stories feel complete.

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