Coal burns underground and destroys a small town. A woman confronts police officers with her pet copperheads. A young girl drinks Drano. A man is banned from his favorite bar.

These are all scenes from West Virginia University Press’ new collection of short stories The Proper Words for Sin by Gary Fincke.

Fincke is the Writers Institute Director and Charles Degenstein Professor of English and Creative Writing at Susquehanna University and the winner of the 2003 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the 2003 Ohio State University/The Journal Poetry Prize, and the 2010 Stephen F. Austin Poetry Prize for recent collections. He has published twenty-four books of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction

Stewart O’Nan, author of Snow Angels, The Odds, and Emily, Alone, calls The Proper Words for Sin “Fine, close work from a master.”
Steve Yarbrough, author of Safe from the Neighbors and The Oxygen Man declared: “It’s all I want from fiction.”

Within these 11 short stories, Flannery O’Connor Award winner and poet Gary Fincke brings into focus the small struggles of ordinary people. The characters within this collection, from boys and girls to fathers, mothers, and the aging, live in cities, in towns, and in rural areas. Yet, no matter the surroundings, all seem alone within a collective anxiety.

Set against extraordinary events, such as the Three Mile Island accident, the Challenger Disaster, and the Kennedy assassination, these stories personalize history through a juxtaposition between large and small tragedies and the unflinching desire to find insight within and redemption from weakness and shortcomings.

The Proper Words for Sin is published under WVU Press’s Vandalia imprint, which features fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. To order this title or to learn more about this book or any WVU Press title, visit or phone (800) 621-2736.

The Proper Words for Sin by Gary Fincke
April 2013: 192pp
PB 978-1-935978-88-6 : $16.99
ePub 978-1-935978-89-3 : $16.99



CONTACT: Abby Freeland, Marketing Manager, WVU Press

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.