One of America's most infamous river cities comes roaring to life in this haunting, enigmatic, and musical literary anthology.
A small town with big-city ambitions, a Catholic stronghold, home to one of the biggest breweries in the world, and a flyover town that was once one of the largest cities in the United States, St. Louis is a study in contrasts and contains an essence that is difficult to capture. In the latest in the publisher’s city anthologies series (previous volumes have covered Detroit, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, among others), St. Louis–raised, Chicago-based journalist Schuessler presents a mix of prose and poetry. The book assumes the herculean task of bringing to life a city that is integral to American history while also proving unfindable on a map by most Americans. “St. Louis is undoubtedly fragmented, physically so in that the city is dissected by rivers, highways, walls, and fences; but also in a more insidious way,” writes the editor in the introduction. “It’s a city (like many) where race, class, religion, and zip code might as well be cards in a rigged poker game, where the winners’ prize is the ability to ignore that the losers have drastically shorter life expectancies. But it’s also a city of warmth, love, and beauty—especially in its contrasts.” Divided into three sections—Histories, Memories, and Realities—the anthology gives readers a dazzling portrait of a Midwestern city whose relationships among socio-economics, religion, civil rights, and class are consistently complex. In Nick Sacco's short essay, the writer discusses the complicated history of the city’s Italian immigrants, capturing that neighborhood's inexorable charm and racial and religious xenophobia. Jason Vasser-Elong's biting poetry brings to life the Delmar Loop, a vibrant area with a complicated racial history that inspired artists like Chuck Berry, while Alice Azure's poetry in “Downtown St. Louis” highlights that area's commercial vitality while also addressing the homeless population that is largely ignored.
A satisfying love letter to a charming city that has many faces and identities.