Sherwood Anderson’s highly influential 1919 story collection, Winesburg, Ohio—which drew on Anderson’s recollections of his childhood home of Clyde, Ohio—sketched not only the everyday lives of its many characters, but also offered a clear sense of what life was like in its titular setting. Here are three other books, reviewed by Kirkus Indie, that present stories set in a single town or region but which use this intriguing device in very different ways:
The children’s book Stories From Squirrel Hill: Book One (2019) by Paul Selman Clark, illustrated by Ray Driver, includes old-fashioned stories that take place in the Squirrel Hill farmhouse and a nearby forest and features a young girl, her plush-animal friends, and her real animal friends. Readers learn valuable lessons while the appealing, full-color illustrations, according to Kirkus’ review, “capture the magic of Squirrel Hill as a setting.”
Terrence Murphy’s Forty Steps and Other Stories (2018) tracks the lives of residents in small-town, fictional Egg Rock, Massachusetts. Its stories start with one about a Viking explorer and continue well into the 20th century, touching on such topics as prejudice, pacifism, espionage, and feminism. Along the way, they show how characters’ actions affect the lives of people in their future. “Readers may wish that the author provided a map of the many characters in these tales,” notes Kirkus’ starred review, “but they’ll still find it fun to track their connections.”
Unnatural Habitats Other Stories (2018) by Angela Mitchell presents bleak tales set in the rural Ozarks region of Arkansas and Missouri. The stories, which feature such varied players as a divorced couple, an assault victim, a conflicted bank robber, and an introspective high schooler, are “linked not only by their common location,” notes Kirkus’ reviewer, “but also by recurring players, which allows for unexpected, additional character development.”
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.