Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...
The last time I read a book set in Indiana it was about The Greatest Town in America (First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity). Throw in Hoosiers, the occasional Pacers game, and a high-school production of The Music Man I saw when I was, at most, ten, and you've pretty much covered the extent of my exposure to the state. So, to say that Frank Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana was a change of pace would be, at the very least, putting it mildly.
Looking at the picture of a young Frank Bill proudly checking out his new rifle in the first pages of the book, I found myself imagining a compassionate English teacher reading one of his stories and, grasping his shoulder, telling him what a talented young writer he is...right before calling Social Services. But, after reading this book, I'm not even sure they have DSS workers waiting by the phone in southern Indiana, so, scratch that idea.
The pages are a buckshot-filled explosion of the darkest corners of small town America. A list of the topics covered (incest, patricide/matricide/fratricide, meth-fueled murder) doesn't begin to hint at the gut-punching level of, not depravity, but something made more sinister by how quotidien these taboos can seem in context.
I'm not usually one for short stories, but Bill does an incredible job of creating characters whose inner lives and histories are conveyed in so few words. My only hesitance to reach for Donnybrook is that I just have no stomach for any violence involving animals (so, someone else will have to tell me if that one is NSFM).