During my recent lit-mag binge, I bought the first issue of a refreshing little publication out of the UK called Fractured West. FW differs a bit from most other mags. How, you ask?
Number one: it's all <500 word stories.
Number two : it's focused on publishing writers that aren't ubiquitous in contemporary lit-mags. I appreciate this, because the more I read, the more I find the lit-mag scene is just as incestuous as any other scene. Editors of mags accept and publish stories from editors of other mags, or names that have frequented the table of contents pages of edgy up-and-coming publications. This reality is fine, of course -- I understand the inevitable: that familiar names are more likely to publish other familiar names, and most especially those who have published their familiar names. But it's a breath of fresh air that FW has a mission statement to do exactly the opposite.
FW is attractively formatted, dainty to fit the dainty word count of its stories, and fraught with compelling fiction. At a mere 48 pages, it's a quick read. A good handful of stories immediately grabbed me enough that I'm happy to own a copy because I'd like to reread and/or share with other people. The most resonating story was "Hair of the Dog" by e.g. Jönsson. It managed to jam-pack an awful lot of character and background, with a surprising and slow reveal toward a profound ending. "The Gorgon" by Grant Loveys proved a twisted and entertaining first-person glimpse into the mind of a dreadful Gorgon living in an ordinary world. And "Ernesto" by Juana Adcock, a slackly delivered bizarre fairy tale of bad housesitting, left me pleasantly bewildered.
All in all, this first issue is both promising and pleasing, with varying styles and tones, prettily bound, thought-provoking and aesthetically appealing. One drawback is that I didn't see an electronic version available for those who don't want to pay for shipping overseas. But if you're into contemporary flash fiction, and especially if you're looking for something new, I recommend purchasing the first issue of Fractured West. And guessing from the fact this is a first issue, it should only get better from here.