Reviewed by Siamak Vossoughi
You have to respect a guy who gets right to the point. I found myself pausing in amazement reading Jon Sindell’s collection of flash fiction, The Roadkill Collection, at his get-right-to-the-point ability. Whole relationships summarized in one sentence, subtleties and all. Pictures of lives that extend far beyond the time and place of the story. I could feel the rigor of cutting out all unnecessary information. The payoff of that rigor feels very earned.
Somehow the style Sindell employs lends itself to a wide range of characters and themes. Love, romantic and otherwise, takes shape in a dizzying variation of forms. Sindell is refreshingly unafraid of sentiment. He writes in a way that reminds me of the men in his stories who are trying desperately to understand their women: pleading with life, but ultimately willing to succumb to its mystery. There is a very subtle bravery in that. Along the way it emboldens the reader to let in that mystery too. I don’t have any more answers than you do, Sindell seems to be saying, but here’s how it looks from where I am.
The stories are subtle in their stance as well. The characters Sindell creates have affectionately-rendered inner lives, and quite a few of those inner lives are in some way political. But the politics work in service of the story. Through and through, everybody is a human being. A story like “The Constant Cap,” in which an old man refuses to take off his cap for the national anthem in every major league stadium across the country, being opposed to its forced patriotism, could be an anti-jingoism polemic. But it does more, sensitively portraying the old man’s insistence to live honestly at the end of his life.
Siamak Vossoughi was born in Tehran and lives in San Francisco. He has had stories published in Prick of the Spindle, Washington Square, the Missouri Review, Fourteen Hills, and Kenyon Review Online. He is the recipient of a Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award, along with a 2014 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, for his upcoming collection, Better Than War, to be published in September 2015. His website is www.siamakvossoughi.com.