In The Valley of Kings | William Black
Full disclosure, Bill Black has been a mentor and writing teacher of mine for many years now. Lucky
me. I love his work and I love listening to him talk about writing. He’s the real deal when it comes to craft, and his latest latest collection—having won the 2019 George Garrett Fiction Prize—is a
treasure. It’s from a smaller press so you may not find it on the shelves, but you can definitely order
it from your local indie bookstore. You will not be disappointed.
These are the kinds of short stories that connect a reader with a place so organically that you can't
help but feel that you have become embedded, invested, in coal country's collective history. Hope
and hopelessness are tangled amongst fully realized characters, and there is an intimacy with the
characters that means you will carry them with you--whether you want to or not--long after you turn
the last page. This is storytelling that draws the reader in without ever letting the writer get in the
way. Clean, precise, but lyrical language against the backdrop of disappointment, a collective
history, and deeply nuanced characters make this one of the very best literary collections I've read in ages. Highly recommend.