Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Faulkner’s ‘Fissures’ filled with strange moments

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Fissures
Grant Faulkner
Press 53    2015
122 pages
Trade paper $14.95

“We all carry so many strange little moments within us,” author Grant Faulkner says in the introduction to his new book of one hundred, 100-word stories. In Fissures he offers weird day dreams, wonderful expressions, stories of love and morality, character studies and other “strange little moments” that will have you rereading, pondering and admiring these delicately crafted vignettes.

Although short tales have been around since Aesop, flash fiction has only recently become an accepted–though evolving–literary genre, and a challenging one, especially if you limit yourself to an arbitrary 100 words. Arbitrary is perhaps not the correct terminology because the 100-word limit fissures-web-optiseems to be the most widely accepted format for flash fiction, though there are others. The arbitrariness lies in selecting this daunting form.

Faulkner’s stories sometimes neared 150 words as he wrote, he explains in the introduction. But with discipline, the excess is removed. And the result is a collection of precise, incredibly creative moments in the lives of Faulkner’s characters.

Faulkner is not a newcomer to the genre. He is founder of the online literary journal, 100 Word Story. He’s also executive director of National Novel Writing Month.

It’s impossible to provide a complete review or synopsis of any 100-word story without almost repeating the story. Instead, let’s talk about the book’s style, subject matter and characters.   In his flash fiction, it’s Faulkner’s sentences that make the stories and it’s his inventive metaphors, similes and his succinct philosophical observations that make the sentences. A few samples:

True lovers are experts at constructing penitentiaries.

He felt like a cheerleader with Tourette Syndrome.

Funny how when Russians speak, it always sounds like someone is going to get killed.

Palm trees swayed like drugged witches…

Love, sex and relationships are explored in some of Faulkner’s moments, the people involved sometimes existing on different plains of thought. Promises, dalliances and desire are elements of the love stories, if they can be called that. Looking for clues to the author’s intentions, one finds Faulkner uses the same male and female character names—Gerard and Celeste—in many of the stories. Are they the same people throughout? Are they true to each other? The final story has something to say about that.

The stories (and sentences) range from the bizarre to the humorous to the profound. While many of the entries are not stories in the sense of having a beginning, middle and conclusion, they often have a protagonist with a challenge. The character studies, such as the beautifully eccentric, Life Knowledge, uncover unique traits, behaviors and beliefs. People who populate Fissures are not like you and me. Or are they? “Frank hadn’t bought a pair of pajamas in twenty three years. He’d never eaten a rutabaga…”

Some of the stories, such as Vive la Resistance end with a laugh. But on the next page is The Scar, with a final sentence that had me considering its implications for some time. I found a few of the stories curiously depressing and grim—intentionally so, I’m sure—many others funny and absorbing with twists and surprises. But it’s the sentences, the language that stand out. “One never leaves some places behind,” Faulkner says in Commemorations.

In addition to challenging your imagination and your view of life, Faulkner leaves you with memorable sentences and concepts that linger.

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Before Death in Nostalgia City, I got started in the genre, writing mystery flash fiction. That’s what drew me to Faulkner’s Fissures. For more information see the “flash fiction” tab on this website or go here: https://baconsmysteries.com/flash-fiction/  To go to the Fissures page on Amazon, click on the book cover.

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