• shawnnocher

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.

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