Edited by Dennis Lehane
Ms. Hen picked up this book last summer at a Little Free Library near where she lives. She had heard about the book because she had gone to a reading to celebrate its publication many years ago. She doesn’t remember the reading very well, but she remembers what Dennis Lahane said about the size of the audience. He said something to the effect that it was a large audience for a reading, and where he lived in Florida, you couldn’t get that many people to a reading, but you could get the same amount to a titty bar. Ms. Hen thought that was hilarious, but sad and true. She’s glad she doesn’t live in Florida, even in January when the temperature has been an average of 25 degrees.
After going to the reading a long time ago, Ms. Hen finally read this collection, a book of noir stories about Boston neighborhoods. Noir is categorized here as darkness, or coming change that brings about misunderstanding.
Ms. Hen read this book quickly. She thought a lot of the stories here were similar to exercises in beginning creative writing classes, the types of stories she used to write when she started writing. She thinks the first story, “Exit Interview,” by Lynn Heitman is unnecessarily violent and badly written. She also thinks that “The Collar,” by Itabari Njeri is offensive and a waste of time. Most of the stories in this book are not wonderful. But some are worth reading.
“Femme Sole,” by Dana Cameron is a period piece about a woman who owns a tavern in the North End circa the days of the American Revolution. Ms. Hen was surprised to read historical fiction here, but she enjoyed it. Another similar story is, “Dark Island,” by Brendan DuBois, which is about a detective helping a woman find a box her fiancé left on an island in Boston Harbor.
The best story in the book is the one by Dennis Lahane, “Animal Rescue,” about a depressed man who lives in Dorchester. He finds a dog and wants to help it, but problems arise. Ms. Hen believes there are people like him living in Boston, lost souls who never had a chance for anything, and never dream of a better life.
Ms. Hen has a hard time reading collections of short stories because she has to live in a new world each time, but it’s more difficult reading an anthology with different writers. Ms. Hen did not love this book, but she read the entire thing fast. Ms. Hen prefers stories written about how the world could be, not poorly written stories about darkness.