Friday, January 28, 2011

'Joy in a Box' by Sally Hanan, Inspirational Flash Fiction

Texas author Sally Hanan is originally from Dublin. Perhaps that's why the soul-searching slices of life in her flash fiction collection Joy in a Box (2009, Smashwords, also available in print at Wordclay) might remind you of a miniaturized Dubliners.

The stories range from bitter to sweet. A few are based on Bible stories or true events. Most are canny observations of how Christians do, should or shouldn't act. Yes, this Christian author pokes gentle fun at misplaced zeal. She turns the same lovingly, teasingly critical eye on us authors in "Writers Forum: Translation 101." Deep down, we all think we're William Shakespeare, don't we?

What Hanan does exceedingly well is focus on relationships. Some of my favorites include "Roses Are Red," in which a widower must find a way to express his true feelings for the second love of his life. In "In the Orange-Sherbet Light," a middle-aged woman expresses gratitude to the aunt who adopted her many years before. Perhaps the best is "I Can Smell Him," a story of love and loyalty in which a married woman is tempted by an office romance.

There's also a touch of humor, as in "That Stalker Thing." Anyone who's ever had a celebrity crush should be able to relate to the hapless cocktail waitress's experience. Any author/edit whose other website is devoted to the fashion uses of duct tape must have a sense of humor.

Because it can be read in small chunks, this book is perfect for inspirational book clubs composed of busy members. If you loved Oliver Frances' book Heart and Souls, you'll also love this book.

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