Run Away Home with Frank and Donald

Have I mentioned I got a chance to read Frank Bill‘s debut book, CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA? I wasn’t sure if I had?

Might as well get used to it. I’m going to be talking about it all month and I plan on it being a busy month down here on the blog.

I’ve been re-reading CRIMES this last week because I want to do a slam dunk review of it next week to post around. I don’t do reviews much. I give them a shot, but I tend to be so damn casual about it. All my structured English education just flies out the door. That’s alright though, because I never believe anything that reads scripted or not from the heart. And if I didn’t like CRIMES I’d kindly thank Frank for the opportunity and move on to the next book. I don’t believe in negative reviews.

But I did like CRIMES so there will be a review in a weeks time.

As reviews go, I recently read a lot of good things about Donald Ray Pollock — some bad too, but those read of personal opinion and not capable review — so he hit my radar. Last week Amazon had a ridiculously good deal on his first novel, THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME. I couldn’t pass up the discount on top of my free shipping. Only a chapter into it and I ordered KNOCKEMSTIFF — Pollock’s first book, a short story collection — for my Kindle.

I don’t have a vast library of crime fiction. Only what I’ve engulfed myself in over the last couple years. So I’m not deeply familiar with  Harry Crews or Larry Brown, though I have a book or two of each to read, but I understand that in their time they were the voice of southern noir. Neither Pollock or Bill are what I’d call southern, rather two country boys living in the mid-west. One in Ohio and the other in, well, Southern Indiana.

They both have a similar voice developed from what they know, where they grew up, and the lessons life have taught them. Reading their bios about and interviews with them, and of course the words they’ve both written, though their styles may differ I connect with the heart of what they write about, as well as some odd parallels.

Growing up a West Virginia boy, I so desperately wanted to be gone from country. As soon as I could stand I swore I’d run the first chance I got and never look back. I made it to Colorado, but rough times and bad decisions had me tail tucking it home with a new wife and baby on the way. Back to family, back to home.

It’s strange that it’s taken me nearly two decades of struggling with work, with writing, with life, to realize it’s not about where you live. And realize the experience of those two decades if honed with my natural predilections could tell stories people want to read.

So to writers, who I now admire, like Frank Bill and Donald Ray Pollock, thank you for showing me my stories don’t have to go far. They only need to run away home.

Don’t forget the deadline for the Frank Bill and Write Where You’re At challenge ends August 25th. 2000 word story about where you grew up.