Sunday, September 4, 2011
Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories by Frank Bill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Blood feud poetry. Desperate situations where beat-down people stand on the line between what they know is wrong and sheer survival in a hardscrabble emotionally jagged landscape. Those uncomfortable photos in the middle of the newspaper showing a man with sunken sleep-bruised eyes and a couple column inches detailing the unfathomable things he's done. Staring into the abysmal latrine of humanity, it is easy to sink to nihilism, to embrace the banality of evil, but in Crimes in Southern Indiana, Frank Bill refuses to take the easy road. People beyond forgiveness seek mere understanding. Desires criss-cross and hurtle together like jalopies down a one lane dirt road. Anyone can write brutality. Giving it a dark but honest human heart takes guts and a keen sense of people, and this novel speaks volumes of messy truth.
Favorites. Vengeance-fueled rampages like "Old Testament Wisdom." The broken gears of human machines, like in "The Need." Not a bad story in the bunch. I'd read an early version of "Officer Down (Tweakers)" and it is leaner and meaner here. Even the meth-heads get their due, and aren't mere boogeymen. One of the best debuts I've read. The best may be "Cold Hard Love," only because it teases us with the subject Bill's next novel, Donnybrook. Which like this book, will be one not to miss.
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