The Predatory Animal Ball by Jennifer Fliss

The Predatory Animal Ball is Jennifer Fliss’s debut collection of flash fiction (extremely short stories) about people left in the wake of predators. These stories will expand your idea of how the word “predator” is defined in sharp, clever, and wonderfully absurd ways. (If you like magical realism or fabulism, you’ll love this book!)

Some of the stories are full of dark humor, some are heartwrenching, and some are downright horrifying. I enjoyed the variety in style among these stories, and how they’re all united by a common theme: predators are everywhere.

Flash fiction has to say a lot in such a ridiculously brief amount of time. Fliss makes every single phrase an active participant in the story, whether it’s a title (“Edward Scissorhands Takes Up Scrapbooking”) or a few opening sentences (“Emily was beside herself. Literally, beside herself. She wasn’t sure what happened, or how it was even possible.”). Every word is important, and the pace is fast.

I’d get to the end of each story and think, okay, just one more, then I’ll go to bed. Same with the next story. I don’t recommend starting this book just before bedtime, intending to read only a few and pick it back up the next day. Go ahead and carve yourself out a chunk of time when you can read it straight through (it’s only 190 pages) because once you get started, The Predatory Animal Ball is difficult to put down!

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