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Fissures: One Hundred 100-Word Stories Paperback – May 1, 2015
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"In Grant Faulkner's collection of very short fiction, Fissures, Faulkner manages to elevate his language, presenting each word here with the rhetorical weight of a novel and with a poetic aptitude that is anything but self-indulgent. Faulkner has, instead, carefully crafted these stories, and each word comes at the reader as high currency." - Atticus Review
"Every detail, in this terse form, seems telling, radiating a mysterious significance. Much like other restricted forms--haiku came to mind more than once, in reading this book--syntax is folded in upon itself, words standing alone like miniature paintings." - decomP
"Using such poetic techniques as compression, ambiguity, and vivid imagery ('I was the kid with mangy ears and biscuits sopped in syrup'), the author tells large stories within tiny spaces: in fact, when writing Fissures he focused on the spaces themselves, those 'odd gaps of silence' that can translate into distances and disconnections between loved ones." - KYSO Flash
"These ephemeral works are meditative like well-crafted haiku. And much like a well-crafted haiku, they are not a simple formal exercise. We sense the expanse between the characters." - Your Impossible Voice
"The stories read as breaths, as whispers, as reflections in glass." - Puerto del Sol
From the Author
I've always thought life is more about what is unsaid than what is said. We live in odd gaps of silence, irremediable interstices that sometimes last forever. A lingering glance averted. The lover who slams the door and runs away. Unsent letters. We all carry so many strange little moments within us. Memory shuffles through random snapshots. Sometimes they seem insignificant, yet they stay with us for some reason, weaving the fabrics of our beings. In the end, we don't seize the day so much as it seizes us.
The idea of capturing such small but telling moments of life is what drew me to 100-word stories (or "drabbles" as they're sometimes referred to). I'd previously written novels and longer short stories, forms that demanded an accumulation of words--to sew connections, to explain, to build an entire world with text. I wondered, what if I did the opposite? What if instead of relying on the words of a story, I relied on the spectral spaces around those words? What if I privileged excision over any notion of comprehensiveness, and formed narratives around caesuras and crevices?
We live as foragers in many ways, after all, sniffing at hints, interpreting the tones of a person's voice, scrutinizing expressions, and then trying to put it all together into a collage of what we like to call truth. Whether it's the gulf between a loved one, the natural world, or God, we exist in lacunae. I wanted to write with an aesthetic that captured these "fissures," as I began to think about them.
Perhaps I could have accomplished such an aesthetic of writing in a longer form, but the hard borders of a 100-word story put a necessary pressure on each word, each sentence. In my initial forays into 100-word stories, my stories veered toward 150 words or more. I didn't see ways to cut or compress. I didn't see ways to make the nuances and gestures of language invite the reader in to create the story. But writing within the fixed lens of 100 words required me to discipline myself stringently. I had to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert's mot juste in a way that even most flash fiction doesn't. As result, I discovered those mysterious, telling gaps that words tend to cover up.
We all have a literal blind spot in our eyes, where the optic nerve connects to the retina and there are no light-detecting cells. None of us will ever know the whole story, in other words. We can only collect a bag full of shards and try to piece them together. This collection is my bag full of shards.
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You ask most folks in the know what distinguishes a prose poem from flash fiction -- especially microfiction like these tiny 100-word stories -- and they'll tell you, not much. And truth be told, some of these pieces in fissures do feel a bit more like poetry, or old-fashioned sketches, or vignettes, or disembodied scenes. But that doesn't deprive any of them of their immense power, and even in such impressionistic brevity, most of these stories are true stories, whole narratives tossed on the page with the minimum strokes of a pen, like some Japanese painting.
It helps that so many of the stories are connected -- I look forward to rereading this whole book and piecing together the longer narrative of Gerard and Celeste, or of Zabeth. And of course there is the central eight-story cycle of Alexander, the filmmaker.
But really, there is equal magic in the isolated, momentary lives of Stockton and Sophie postcoital on a Victorian couch, of Tom and his father in the silver LTD, of Margery and George drinking martinis in jelly jars, of all the nameless "I" narrators and "you" subjects and hes and shes of these intimate little worlds.
It's quite a feat, this book, and it serves not only as a beautiful artifact of the microfiction form but also as a kind of textbook. If ever you wanted to know how to write a full story in a mere 100 words, here are your instructions: take up Grant Faulkner, read, and read again.
This genre fits internet content space criteria very well and may become the international standard of prose fiction with punch. In addition, it is rapidly becoming the model for news reportage.