Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books. Anthologies are hot these days with new ones being announced every week. I reviewed Delta Blues back when it came out in 2010 when anthologies were nearly not so prevalent as they are now. This is an anthology with depth and one that should not be ignored. After you read the review, make sure you check out the rest of the reading suggestions over on Patti Abbott’s blog.
With nineteen authors and 400 pages of text (including ten pages of author and editor biographies) it isn't possible to go into detail on each and every story. Therefore, what follows below are my personal favorites from this outstanding anthology. Your personal choices may, and in all likelihood will, vary tremendously.
James Lee Burke is one of my all-time favorite authors both as a writer and a reader. His ability to create powerful imagery is something I aspire to do as a writer. “Big Midnight Special” is his contribution here and touches on themes familiar to his readers. A long term convict, Arlen, is serving prison time and about to get crosswise with a powerful con by the name of Jody. Principal is a powerful motivator and it cuts both ways.
Not everything that walks in the night is of animal or human origin. In “Crossroads Bargain” by Charlaine Harris, blues guitarist Ernest Washington has trouble on many fronts. Saved from white men looking to have some fun and maybe even kill him, Ernest is at crossroads literally and metaphorically with everything in his life at stake.
Changing directions in life is also a key part of “Run Don't Run” written by Mary Saums. After barely surviving being shot in Chicago, Crosby takes stock of what is, and more importantly is not, in his life. Ultimately, he decides to go back home to Mississippi and go to work for the local Sheriff’s department. Crosby is not the only one that decides to go to Mississippi as somebody he occasionally arrested in Chicago has also come down. He's bringing a bag of trouble with him and things are not going to be easy.
Author of the very good John Deal series set in Miami and Key West, Les Standiford contributes the tale titled “Life and Casualty.” A late night drive, fog, and a hitchhiker are just some of the elements that mark the beginning of a very strange night for Del.
At 400 pages of intros, stories, and extensively detailed author biographies, this is a read that features real depth and broadness to the work. Much like the Mississippi Delta itself, time has little meaning with this book as this rich anthology slowly moves forward. This is not a light hearted work. Instead, the overall tone is somber, powerful and deep with the pain of financial insecurity, racism, and isolationism along with the steady sway of the blues told by characters that feel it for every second of life as the generations before them have. The stories will touch readers in many ways.
As noted on the back cover of the book, a dollar from each sale will be donated to the Rock River Foundation to aid in their efforts supporting the arts and literary in the Delta. For more information of the group and their work go to http://www.rrfoundation.org
ARC supplied by Tyrus Books in exchange for my objective review. Material quoted has been verified in the hardback publication.
Edited by Carolyn Haines
Hardback (also available in print and e-book)
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010, 2015