THE APTLY NAMED Worlds in Small (Cacanadadada, 89 pages, $12.95 paper) is a collection of minimalist literature, but being a John Robert Colombo production it is billed as the planet's largest compilation; and if the minimals themselves never run on for more than 50 words, his preface is a decidedly non-mincing 6,666.
TO alert us, to give us time to adjust, Colombo fragments his foreword and throws the pieces out randomly, or so it seems, for one is never quite sure of much in the company of gruesome three-line novels and short short shorts such as "FOR SALE. BABY SHOES. NEVER WORN." Each miniature is scrupulously word-counted and its source noted, and is then elaborated on, often superlatively. So that from the annotations we learn of further eccentricities: of Jorge Luis Borges as prankster, or the letter to a London editor stating "I wish to protest most strongly about everything." Worlds in Small is full of delicious quotables, perfect for the listen-to-this crowd. Such people can ruin lives, but at least now they will do so jubilantly, having "If Eve Had Failed to Conceive" a wordless entry - to spread around.
The cumulative effect of all this minimalism is to suddenly view your surroundings as a kind of silence punctuated only when necessary by pithy, no-nonsense observations. (In the next room the phone rings six times, then stops.) Why plough through War and Peace when you can have Praxiteles Swan's spoiler: "We all went up to Gettysburg, the summer of '63: and some of us came back: and that's all except the details."