Ordinary Sins
Ordinary Sins (back cover)

Ordinary Sins

“Funny and heartbreaking, droll and wise.” —SANDS HALL
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Modeled after the character sketches of Theophrastus—the ancient Greek philosopher who created this literary form—Ordinary Sins deftly introduces a series of oddly recognizable individuals. A boy curses the world following his first trip to daycare. A man takes up writing to discover what it means to be anonymous. A girl becomes so enamored with cherries that they begin to blossom from her ears. In all these brief interactions—moving from a nightly Sad Hour hosted by a bar to the moonlit sandbox of a retired army general—we see not just the richness of these characters but ourselves, as Jim Heynen moves beyond quirks and eccentricities to capture an essential humanity.

 Augmented by the deeply evocative illustrations of renowned artist Tom Pohrt, Ordinary Sins is a collection to be treasured by story lovers and collectors of beautifully made books alike.

Publish Date
5.75 × 8.75 × 0.5 in
8.7 oz

Jim Heynen

Jim Heynen is the author of, most recently, Ordinary Sins and The Fall of Alice K. Born on a farm in Northwest Iowa, Heynen was formerly the Books Editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and now lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Praise and Prizes

  • “What’s funny, in these sometimes silly, sometimes sweet, and sometimes chilling little stories, is how rarely—if ever—Jim Heynen’s characters are actually types, no matter what their titles suggest. They stand in quiet testimony to their author’s gift for finding the singular character in what each individual does, which he captures simply in his own singular, characteristic, not-so-simple terms.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “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
  • 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
  • “As much modern day folk tales as they are études on the quirks, reversals, and underlying consistencies in the human equation, these fictional shorts make for marvelously compulsive reading. Ordinary Sins never fails to produce extraordinary fillips of insight, and to illuminate, sometimes uncomfortably, what we try not to notice about ourselves or our culture. Jim Heynen’s collection is serious fun.”

    Lynn Stegner
    author of Because a Fire Was in My Head
  • “Jim 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
  • “The voices found in Jim Heynen’s utterly charming Ordinary Sins are funny and heartbreaking, droll and wise. We find tinges of Thoreau’s ‘lives of quiet desperation,’ while also recognizing concerns and obsessions and affections that abide within us all. With delightful specificity, Heynen creates world after world that we feel lucky to inhabit for a page or two before we move on to the next luminously drawn character.”

    Sands Hall
    author of Catching Heaven
  • “The gentle humor throughout attests to Jim Heynen’s own generosity of spirit… . Perhaps ‘flash fiction’ is the name for these stories, but Heynen has been writing them since before that term came into vogue.”