ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Ordinary Sins by Jim Heynen


ordinary sins284Ordinary Sins by Jim Heynen

From a bar hosting its nightly Sad Hour to the moonlit sandbox of a retired army general, Jim Heynen’s new collection of short-short fiction, Ordinary Sins, presents us with character sketches of strange yet fascinating men and women who resonate far beyond their brief moments in the spotlight. Modeled after the work of Theophrastus’ Characters—brief, verbal snapshots of people created by a Greek philosopher in antiquity, discovered by the author in his impressionable youth—Heynen captures not just the quirks and eccentricities of his characters, but also their humanity.

Guilty of only ordinary and forgivable sins, we meet a man who consistently jingles his keys despite the organized and fruitful life he leads, a girl so enamored with cherries that they begin to blossom out of her ears, and a man who takes up writing to discover what it means to be anonymous. In all these brief interactions we see not just the rich characters Heynen has created, but ourselves. Augmented by the deeply evocative illustrations of renowned artist Tom Pohrt, Ordinary Sins will appeal to story lovers and collectors of beautifully made books alike.



Ordinary Sins gives you people-watching in book form. Each eccentric in this pantheon is a magnet for your gaze, their excesses fascinating, exasperating, bizarre—then suddenly familiar. This is a book to revel in.” —Kim Stafford, author of The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft

“Heynen’s details are intriguing, and his voice is entertaining as always, but what most stands out in these rogues’ gallery portraits of our own wayward selves is a gentle humor which makes us forgive, and even approve, our dark side.” —David Pichaske, author of Song of the North Country: A Midwest Framework to the Songs of Bob Dylan

“I have been an avid reader of Jim Heynen’s writing for more than three decades, eagerly awaiting the arrival of each and every one of his new books. Ordinary Sins is both genius and generous, a beautifully crafted collection of short-short fiction filled with keen wit and stunning acuity. Heynen is a master storyteller, and in Ordinary Sins he is at the height of his powers. Somewhere the ghost of Theophrastus is nodding his head in enthusiastic approval.” —Robert Hedin, author of The Old Liberators: New and Selected Poems and Translations


Publisher Information

Binding: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-57131-090-3
Pages: 104
Publish Date: November 2014
Genre: Fiction



jimJim Heynen is perhaps best known for his collections of short prose featuring young farm boys: The One-Room Schoolhouse: Stories about the Boys, Boys House: New & Selected Stories, Fishing for Chickens: Short Stories about Rural Youth, and The Man Who Kept Cigars in his Hat. He is also the author of poetry and young adult fiction. Jim lives in St. Paul, MN with his wife, Sarah T. Williams, formerly the Books Editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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Eckleburg is a print and online literary journal that offers original fiction, poetry, essays, music, art, writing workshops and more.