An anthology of short fiction by multiple authors creates a town through its characters.
The editors have collected 29 writers to document "the inner lives of the inhabitants of a typical small Midwestern town,” but the book doesn't create any sense of place. It's satire that collapses into absurdity. There's the preacher who manipulates his female parishioners into sex when he deposits his "Essence" into her "Matrix of Life" ("Jackie Patch" by C.J. Hribal). A cleaning lady enlists a professor from St. Meinhof College for her trivia-night team only to scare the bejesus out of her when she summons Billy Sunday, the long-deceased early-20th-century evangelist, to speak from her iPhone ("Cleaning Lady to the Stars" by Valerie Sayers). Amanda Patch, the doyenne of the town—whose daughters are subjects of their own stories—forms a reading group whose members seek to become virgins once again through the magic of their dedicated plastic surgeon. Amanda is also the fictional editor of the Book Club Guide at the end of this collection, which tries to further the satire but only achieves puerility. The individual voices of the characters of this collective endeavor all somehow seem the same in spite of some good efforts, as in "Limberlost" by Kelcey Ervick Parker, which does have an aching beauty to its writing.
The premise of co-opting a classic (Winesburg, Ohio) is suspect from the beginning, and in the end, this anthology is a sophomoric attempt at humor and social commentary.