Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

I’d just finished reading Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs when I started reading a lot of Twitter posts talking about a kick ass collection of stories. My lack of  impulse control did me a favour and convinced me to buy it now. Bugger! The book is not released in the UK for about four years (months but I have little patience) and the UK cover doesn’t appeal to me as much. Over to Amazon.com I go. After adding international four week shipping it works out less cash than buying the UK version anyway. That is a result. It gets better though. Those lovely Amazon pixies managed to row my book across the pond in under two weeks.

Opening my parcel the first thing I notice is how gritty the cover is. I don’t just mean the evocative image of the burned out car, I mean the cover feels like sandpaper. Is this deliberate? Is this an omen? I opened this puppy with the excitement of a five year old at Christmas.

BANG! It is not often that I swear out loud whilst reading the first page of a book. There is no easing you in, setting the scene, putting on those comfy slippers. From the first moment this book hits you right between the eyes like a nine iron. By the end of the first story I was stunned. This is a seriously hardcore work of art. Some of the topics and themes covered go beyond nasty and into the realms uncomfortably terrible.

I read a one star review of this book on Amazon that would have made me want to buy it if I didn’t have it already. It talked about only enjoying this if you wanted to read lots of descriptions of bruises and cuts. Personally I prefer that to repetition. I would personally recommend reading this book in several sittings rather than in one or two long sessions.

I’ve recently started trying to write short stories myself recently and I can quite safely say that if I ever manage to pack anywhere near the amount of emotion that I found in these stories into anything I write, then I would be a very happy man. Every story stands proudly alone, yet there are links between them and the final story closes things off nicely.

Oh and I learned that a wifebeater is a kind of sleeveless t-shirt. Yes I had to Google that.

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One thought on “Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

  1. Maybe “wifebeater” is an American expression. I’ve known what it meant but, as a woman, it’s sometimes a little hard to get past that word meaning something innocuous.

    My point in commenting, though, is to acknowledge how many good things I’ve been hearing about this book! I can tell that the word mentioned above, wouldn’t faze me in it’s story’s settings. I can be a little squeamish, but I’m very interested in truth in all it’s forms — especially the artistic. As a starving writer myself, well close to starving, I have to save up for a friend’s new book first but, after seeing all the good reviews, “Crimes in Southern Indiana” is next on my list.

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