A Cosmopolitan by W Somerset Maugham you ought to read

Very short stories existed long before we used the name “flash fiction”. For a while, they were called Cosmopolitan shorts, because Cosmopolitan, the magazine, liked to run very short stories in their pages. W Somerset Maugham was a regular contributor to the Cosmopolitan shorts, and later had a collection of his work for the magazine printed.

Maybe the best known of Maugham’s Cosmopolitans is Salvatore the Fisherman, printed in 1924. It’s not the world’s greatest story, but Maugham enjoyed writing shorts – I’ve read a line where he says he used these pieces to explore his craft, to learn what worked and what didn’t work – and if you’re at all interested in the history of flash fiction, this piece has great curiosity value. It begins with the line “I wonder if I can do it”, and you won’t find out what he wonders if he can do until you reach the end!

If you  do want to read more, you can find the collection archived on the internet here: I don’t want to geek out too much, but the preface in particular is interesting.

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