Fiction of the A-Ha Moment: Foust’s Sins of Omission

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Foust’s Sins of Omission

I’m an over-writer, and I know it. No matter what I’m working on, I know I’m going to have to dial myself back, get rid of all the extraneous material. Even then, I know it’s going to be too long. It’s something I’ve learned to live with.

Enough about me.

Here’s the thing: I am in constant awe of writers who can pull off short-short fiction. Serious awe, in the truest definition of the word. No hyperbole here.

Once, when I lived and played music in San Diego, a guitarist walked up to the stage during one of our breaks and asked if he could check out my guitar. Reluctantly, I said yes, and he promptly flipped it over and played it left-handed. A guitar strung for me, a right-hander. He was brilliant, too.

I’m talking about myself again.

My point is this is the same way I feel when someone like Foust, the author of the new collection Sins of Omission, does what she does. I’m amazed, confused, and yes, damn it, I’m all kinds of envious.

I’ve heard people say that flash fiction is a gimmick, that those kinds of stories don’t have an arc, a beginning, middle and end. Short short stories leave you hanging, in other words. To those people, I say, yes, anything can be a gimmick. Oh, and I also say they haven’t been reading good flash fiction.

Good flash fiction does what all good stories do. It changes you in some way, leaving you in a different place than where you were when you started. It gives you a new view into the world, into an a-ha moment you never knew you couldn’t live without. You can occasionally go through an entire long story or novel and never experience that moment, by the way. The good news is every story in this collection has at least one of those moments.

The forty-two short-short stories in Sins of Omission are small only in the actual amount of paper they cover. Every other thing about them is huge. Plus, you’re always going to want to go back and read them again, so there’s that.

So trust me. You should buy this book.

 

4 comments

  1. Mary Foust says:

    I am Foust’s Mom. Comments I have heard from friends is the feeling of being “left hanging” with many of Foust’s short stories.
    Thanks for the helpful remarks about the difference in flash/short fiction and a novel. This will help me explain Foust’s work.

    • J.G. Walker says:

      You’re most welcome, and it’s so nice to meet you! Your daughter is a fine person and a superb writer. She and I attended Spalding together in Louisville.

  2. James Martin says:

    I agree with you that she is a very fine writer, one whose new work I anticipate as a child looks forward to an Easter egg hunt. Treasures (even) in the short grass.

    • J.G. Walker says:

      Indeed! I recently recommended this to one of my students who’s looking to find some good short, short fiction.

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