As a native southerner, I of course place no stock in the premise that a disproportionate number of great writers come out of the great state of Indiana. So right off the bat, I picked up this book as a challenge. This anthology contains plenty of vanilla works of fiction, but that is the power of an anthology: Out of 20-30 stories, some will shine. Here are my favorites:
– Between the Lines, by Ben H. Winters: A very clever, lighthearted story, right up my alley, treading the line between sci-fi and literary fiction.
– Moving Again, by John Green: This very kooky author cracks me up. I liked the story because it reminded me of my own recent moving experience. Books weigh a lot!
– Romancing the Book, by Liza Hyatt: Another very close-to-home treatment of the love affair so many of us enjoy with the written word.
– What Once Was, by Frank Bill: Haunting and violent, reminded me of the “Country Noir” of Daniel Woodrell
– Anna’s Wings, by Angela Jackson Brown: The only story in the collection that made me cry. Not just sad, but beautifully crafted and written.
– Black Like… Me? by Barbara Shoup: A very powerful treatment of race. She touches on something I’ve recently read from Steven Pinker too, that books help make the world a more peaceful place because they teach us empathy.
I cannot say that I know enough about the editing & publishing process to rate & review the efforts of M. Travis DiNicola to compile this collection. As a writer I of course give the bulk of the credit to the writers. However, I am very glad that collectors are out there, trying their ear on new & upcoming writers, so that a short read like this can lead a humble reader like myself to discover a half dozen new talented voices.