Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories
Farrar Straus and Giroux
“Cold, Hard Love”
“Cold, Hard Love” is from Frank Bill’s debut collection, Crimes in Southern Indiana (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). His work has appeared in Granta and Oxford American. His gritty, high tension writing has been compared to the work of Cormac McCarthy. Bill lives and writes in Southern Indiana.
Bill had this to say about the origin of his story: Growing up, my father and mother were always raising their tones with one another over money, how there wasn’t enough of it. My father had lost a good job with the Brown Williams Tobacco Plant in Louisville, Kentucky when they decided to cease operations and relocate to Georgia. My mother was a cashier at the time. They forfeited a three-bedroom ranch and moved to my grandparent’s farm, shacked up in a small two bedroom structure that my grandfather had constructed with sheet metal walls and a tar roof when his mother was ailing.
Writing “Cold, Hard Love,” I drew from those memories of what it was like going from working class to struggling class. There was always beer in the fridge or whiskey in the cupboard to help forget about the money you didn’t have. My father ended up working three jobs and my mother landed a job in a local factory. Some weekends they went out with friends to bars, drank and caught indie rock bands. Other times my father helped my grandfather on his farm cutting and splitting lumber or went into town to the local VFW, visited his mother and friends and tossed a few drinks back while my mother might’ve been working the swing shift. And when he came home, booze-breathed with me by his side, the words would fly like fists.
Kirkus Reviews said of the collection: “No doubt about it, Bill can write. His sentences are terse and clipped: You’ll feel as though some backwoods cracker has taken a break from cookin’ meth or beatin’ his wife to tell you these stories.”
Publisher’s Weekly wrote: “Bill’s resolutely unsentimental debut collection lays bare working-class strife, exposing atrocities that are at once violently harrowing and desperately human.”