Review: ‘Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine’ by Diane Williams

Originally published on Goodreads

I’ve never read flash fiction so I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to ‘do’.

At first I found myself struggling to latch onto anything. No plot, no recurring characters. Some themes, I guess. An overarching vibe.

I also found myself flitting between liking it and not. I tried to read it as intended (flash fiction, by someone revered in that genre) rather than how parts of it landed (unpolished, trying hard to be edgy).

Gradually though more sentences began to stand out. With so few in a story – sometimes literally a couple, more usually a couple of page’s worth – they’re made to work harder. I imagine they’re considered more carefully, too, and if that’s the case there are questions to consider: why was that word chosen? Why something dissonant or otherwise maybe clumsy? Through this lens what initially felt unpolished begins to deliberate: maybe chosen to be noticeable, to give brevity a depth that would usually take much longer to achieve.

Overall the experience of dropping in on so many characters, gleaning one or two things about them, not building a detailed picture of anyone but gathering so many details makes them – because they’re not part of the same picture – feel so much more interesting.

This is an unusual book (from my perspective, I imagine from most perspectives) but it does what it’s trying to do well (if it is actually trying to do what I think it is).

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