One of the biggest trends in fiction writing over the past several years has been the popularization of so-called flash fiction, ultra-short stories whose precise and sparing use of language often resembles poetry as much as it does fiction. Part of the surprising beauty of Tupelo Hassman's debut novel, Girlchild, is that many of the small vignettes that make up the short chapters read like superbly crafted flash fiction. It shouldn't be a surprise, really, since Hassman has published flash fiction on such sites as 100wordstory.org. Here, though, the pieces, each of which could stand on its own, combine to become far more than their expected sum.
Hassman also experiments with form in the novel, utilizing documentation such as social workers' reports and whimsical elements like mathematical word problems. Not only do these materials tell Hassman's story in an unusual and flexible way;...
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