Saturday, 17 September 2016

FRANK BILL - CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA (2011)


Synopsis/blurb….

A ferocious debut that puts Frank Bill's southern Indiana on the literary map next to Cormac McCarthy's eastern Tennessee and Daniel Woodrell's Missouri Ozarks

Crimes in Southern Indiana is the most blistering, vivid, flat-out fearless debut to plow into American literature in recent years. Frank Bill delivers what is both a wake-up call and a gut punch. Welcome to heartland America circa right about now, when the union jobs and family farms that kept the white on the picket fences have given way to meth labs, backwoods gunrunners, and bare-knuckle brawling.

Bill's people are pressed to the brink - and beyond. There is Scoot McCutchen, whose beloved wife falls terminally ill, leaving him with nothing to live for - which doesn't quite explain why he brutally murders her and her doctor and flees, or why, after years of running, he decides to turn himself in. In the title story, a man who has devolved from breeding hounds for hunting to training them for dog-fighting crosses paths with a Salvadoran gangbanger tasked with taking over the rural drug trade, but who mostly wants to grow old in peace. As Crimes in Southern Indiana unfolds, we witness the unspeakable, yet are compelled to find sympathy for the depraved.

Bill's southern Indiana is haunted with the deep, authentic sense of place that recalls the best of Southern fiction, but the interconnected stories bristle with the urban energy of a Chuck Palahniuk or a latter-day Nelson Algren and rush with the slam-bang plotting of pulp-noir crime writing à la Jim Thompson. Bill's prose is gritty yet literary, shocking, and impossible to put down. A dark evocation of the survivalist spirit of the working class, this is a brilliant debut by an important new voice.


A hard-hitting and enjoyable short story collection from Frank Bill – 17 in all.

Read a month a month and a half ago, I can’t recall too much about many of them if I’m truthful, though one in particular sticks in the mind….. a grandfather who sells his granddaughter to pay a debt……WTF!

Coon hunters, crystal meth, drug deals, fishing, conservation officers, feuding neighbours, jail cells, dog fighting, deer hunting, moonshine, poverty, family, cancer, war veterans, PTSD, domestic violence, insurance scam, pawn shops, County Sheriffs, hit and run, double shifts waiting tables, bare-knuckle fighting, ms-13, Salvadoran gangsters and more.

Frank Bill writes the  kind of stories I like to read about the kind of people I probably wouldn't care to meet.

From The Old Mechanic

Here was a time when the shell shock of war was ignored. What the repercussions of warfare did to a man’s brain. The seeing, hearing, and participating. And like the war, the abusing of a woman was overlooked. People pretended it never happened. This was a time when till-death-do-us-part was an enforced rule of matrimony. When wives didn’t leave their husbands. They obeyed them.

From These Old Bones

He’d burned his father’s home for insurance money. Shot Esther MacCullum’s dog dead in front of him for a debt he owed. Forced himself upon Needle Galloway’s fourteen-year-old daughter. Opened Nelson Anderson’s skull in the Leavenworth Tavern with a hammer for saying he’d ratted out Willie Dodson on a cross-county dope deal, even though he did it for the local law.

And today he’d sold his granddaughter, Knee High Audry, to the Hill Clan to whore out. Needing the extra cash to help pay for his wife Josephine’s cancer medications. Yeah he thought, I’s a son of a bitch.

A superb collection

4.5 stars from 5


Frank Bill has his website here

He's on Twitter - @HouseofGrit 

His novel Donnybrook waits on the pile.

Bought new a few years ago, read in August 2016

12 comments:

  1. I like that way of putting it, Col: ...stories I like to read about the kind of people I probably wouldn't care to meet.. I know just the kind of story you mean, and this sounds like a solid collection of them.

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    1. Thanks Margot, I really liked this set. I'm keen to read a novel from him now.

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  2. Sounds very bleak, and I am not sure I would enjoy the stories. I am glad you did.

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    1. Tracy, probably not one you would care for too much.

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  3. Col – Glad you liked the stories. I read this book, too. Frank Bill knows the region. While not exactly my backyard, it would not take me long to drive to the places in the book.

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    1. It's an impressive collection. I liked the setting and the crossover of characters between a few of the stories - something I neglected to mention in my thoughts. I'll dig out DONNYBROOK sooner rather than later - have you read it?

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    2. I have not read that novel, but will soon. Make that sooner or later. Like you, I have quite a backlog of TBR books.

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    3. I'll have to collect it on the next trip to the loft!

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  4. Sounds interesting, Col. I'm curious about the author's writing style, particularly since I dream of writing gritty short stories too.

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    1. Well worth a look if you can get hold of a copy. I'm curious to read his novel now after enjoying his short stories.

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  5. Sounds like a good writer, but I'm never that taken with short stories.

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