It’s so hard finding a really good book these days, so when I find one which stands out from the rest, I just have to share it with you. So here it is, ‘Hinting at Shadows’ by Sarah Brentyn… your next great read!
Flash Fiction is like Marmite – you either love it, or you don’t. But that’s because it’s still a new genre, and the majority of the reading public are either unaware, or suspicious of it. I mean, really, how can you tell a complete story in just one or two hundred words?
The answer is… you can’t. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s a snapshot. A crystallized moment in time. Flash Fiction distills a story down to it’s most vital essence. The rest is told – hinted at – by implication. And as a reader, you are invited not just to passively read, but to read actively; Flash Fiction fires your imagination. So if you are one of those people who likes a linear tale told from beginning to end with a definitive character arc and every detail spelled out for you, well then Flash is probably not for you.
Flash does for the short story what haiku does for poetry; in a format in which every word counts, the Flash Fiction author will slash and slice ruthlessly until all that remains are the bare, beautiful bones, clinging together by the merest whisper of a thread. Only then is their true splendour revealed.
Bits of my life flutter in and out of my head and these memories lose their meaning.
– Dreams and Debris
That’s what Sarah Brentyn does. Good Flash is notoriously difficult to write, not that you’d know it from reading Hinting at Shadows, Sarah’s latest book. She makes it look deceptively easy. But the tales her words tell are anything but easy.
I was entranced right from the very first story: Emily. I had been warned that these stories make you stop and think, go back, and read them again, and it’s true… I had to go back and read Emily several times. Perhaps it touched a nerve. It reminded me of my relationship with my own daughter, at once a beautiful and happy and sad thing.
I turned the page to the next story: Regret, which ‘scoops you out like a cantaloupe’… who hasn’t felt like that at some point? Most of us are no strangers to regret.
And so on through the book. These stories may be short, but they explode in your brain like tasty little book-bombs, full of deeper meaning and intensity. They’re not for the faint-hearted. They will lead you into the shadows of human nature, and that’s an uncomfortable place many prefer not to tread.
I can see both lover and monster. This makes me wonder if the evening sunset shows him my face unmasked. The terror that hides beneath my compliance.
I loved this book. In some ways it was challenging to read, because I identified with so many of the stories. But it was also beautifully and richly crafted. Brentyn has a skill with the written word that just leaves you breathless and wishing you could write like that. Even the introduction is a work of art.
I also think she can see into people’s souls. How else can she lay so much of the reader open in the pages of her book?
Buy the book. Fall for flash fiction. Dig deep into the darkness.
Hinting at Shadows