An illuminating collection that focuses on the boomer generation.

THE BOOM PROJECT

VOICES OF A GENERATION

A baby boomer anthology offers poetry, personal essays, and short fiction primarily by Ohio River Valley authors.

In this collection, debut editors Crum and Johnson compile works by boomers born in the years 1946 to 1964. The pieces present many of the typical ’60s tropes—the Vietnam War, Kent State, the assassinations of John F. and Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the rise of feminism, and the styles of the era. Yet the most memorable works in this book go beyond these expectations to supply insights that supersede boomer generational concerns. Divided into five sections, the first part explores the Ohio River, and the second examines the boomer generation. Sections three and four concentrate on the coming-of-age and maturing of the ’60s generation. The final section provides stories and poems dealing with home as a refuge and place of security. “What you will find here are more questions than answers, more searching than certainty,” Crum asserts in introducing the 47 authors—some published and some unknown—and their works. For example, E.G. Silverman’s story “Bagel Macher” vividly portrays the characters who inhabit a bagel shop but not much of the ’60s ideas that typify many boomer-centered tales. This anthology also stretches the meaning of the term “boomer.” John Limeberry’s story “Child of the Sixties” delivers the ruminations of an author born late in the boomer cycle (1962), a writer who has no personal recollections of the signal events and personages that so typify that era. Not all of the work that the editors—who are Louisville, Kentucky, writing coaches—have selected comes from the Ohio River region. Reed Venrick’s superb poem “Success of a Cypress,” which skillfully looks at the Cypress swamps of Florida using humor and self-reflection, has little to do with the Ohio River or boomer-ism. Varying quite widely in style, some fictional, autobiographical, and poetic gems emerge from this compendium for readers who are willing to journey through these pages.

An illuminating collection that focuses on the boomer generation.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-941953-69-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Butler Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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