Fourteen free-wheeling stories document the grit and glory of Milwaukee.
Editor Hennessy acknowledges that in the midst of growing gentrification, Milwaukee remains “among the most segregated and impoverished big cities in the country.” Many of his entries document that legacy with anger and sadness. Vida Cross’ “All Dressed in Red” and Derrick Harriell’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” show the ugliness that flares up when people try to cross the borders created by a generation of redlining. In Frank Wheeler Jr.’s “Transit Complaint Box,” a veteran transit cop teaches a rookie what it means to be a racist. Youngsters develop strategies to deal with a trauma at an integrated public school in James E. Causey’s “The Clem.” Matthew J. Prigge shows what happens to a neighborhood when the money moves on in “3rd Street Waltz.” A young thief makes a shocking discovery in Valerie Laken’s heartbreaking “Runoff.” Other stories show the dark side of revitalization. A middle-class couple copes with the disappearance of their child in Mary Thorson’s “Wonderland.” A Brooklyn visitor’s relationship with a young local woman turns ugly in Reed Farrel Coleman’s “Summerfest ’76.” In “Friendship,” Jane Hamilton shows the unexpected consequences of a New York couple’s move to a historic Milwaukee town house. And not one but two stories document the perils of lawn care: Christi Clancy’s “’Mocking Season” and Nick Petrie’s “The Neighbor.”
A nod to Milwaukee’s blue-collar heritage, a frank look at racial disharmony, and a peek at the future make Hennessy’s collection a find for fans of urban noir.