Here’s an interesting excerpt from the United States Department of State publication, Outline of American Literature, 04 May 2008. Read the full article here
The short short is a very brief story, often only one or two pages long. It is sometimes called “flash fiction” or “sudden fiction” after the l986 anthology Sudden Fiction, edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas.
In short short stories, there is little space to develop a character. Rather, the element of plot is central: A crisis occurs, and a sketched-in character simply has to react. Authors deploy clever narrative or linguistic patterns; in some cases, the short short resembles a prose poem.
Supporters claim that short shorts’ ‘reduced geographies’ mirror postmodern conditions in which borders seem closer together. They find elegant simplicity in these brief fictions. Detractors see short shorts as a symptom of cultural decay, a general loss of reading ability, and a limited attention span. In any event, short shorts have found a certain niche: They are easy to forward in an e-mail, and they lend themselves to electronic distribution. They make manageable in-class readings and models for writing assignments.