Saying that Kafka wrote "flash" fiction does seem to stretch the definitions of the genre. He indeed wrote short pieces, but the completion of a story within 1000 words would not have been his intent. I have met the author who arguably invented the genre of "Post Card Stories" in Canada, and I have read many entertaining and pithy stories in this genre. But the bilge does seem to rise high the shorter the length.
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WHY FLASH FICTION IS AN OVERRATED GENRE, AND WHY ETGAR KERET IS A MASTER OF IT
Defined as stories of 1,000 words or less, flash fiction has also spawned microfiction, hint fiction, short short fiction, and a host of other indistinguishable subtypes. Flash fiction is not really a new innovation—a hundred years ago, Franz Kafka and Robert Walser wrote pieces that could fit the label—but it's the kind of cultural product that's easily hawked as suited for our age.
A few years ago, flash fiction swept through the world of literary journals, with hardly a week going by without a new contest or site devoted to publishing the best works shorter than your average Yelp review.Esquire and Vogue, two magazines that almost never publish fiction (though they used to regularly), exploited the genre, with the former calling it “Napkin Fiction,” the idea being that it was written on the limp serviette slipped under your double-malt.
The problem with flash fiction is that much of it isn't very good. Boosters like to say that So-and-so packs more into a thousand words than most writers do into a novel, but that's almost never true—particularly when you consider that time spent with a novel, and all of the mental and emotional investment that that requires, is one of its principal features. Instead, most flash fiction is too brief and self-satisfied to strike more than one note. Often, it's a joke told too long or a conceit that doesn't become anything else. It's literary tokenism, stories to be consumed between commercial breaks.