Prolific flash fiction writer Paul Beckman is joining Nancy and me for our Rendezvous in the Rockies writing retreat in Breckenridge, Colorado in August. His most recent collection of stories, Kiss Kiss, published by Truth Serum Press, is arguably his best to date. If I counted right, there are no less than 78 new flashes compiled here and each one is a tiny, glowing gem of a story, with characters you’ll not soon forget.
Not included in this collection, Paul’s story, “Healing Time” is illustrative of his craft and was one of the stories most often called out and admired in reviews of Best Small Fictions 2016 edited by Stuart Dybek. There, he perfectly conveys the best and worst of a family confronting a crisis. Paul’s gift is the honesty and relatability of his stories and his people. He finds the moments that convey a lifetime. Human dynamics distilled and potent.
One of my favorites from Kiss Kiss is “Birthday Beer” which opens compellingly and deliciously:
“My wife called and told me to come home. I finished my birthday beer and drove home and the driveway and yard were filled with cars. Some surprise birthday party. I grabbed a drink from someone’s hand and walked around the gathering. I look and these were not my closest friends, in fact, not my current friends at all but people I’d played tricks on, rolled over in business deals, and spoken against to others. They climbed the deck stairs and I was people-pushed into my living room and told to stand in a square taped onto the floor.”
Paul is one of my favorite flash fiction writers and he just keeps getting better. Read this collection for lessons in style, voice, concision, and emotional honesty, but mostly read these stories to be entertained. I promise you will be.