I’ve known and have been reading Frank Bill for close to four years now. I’ve been lucky enough to read a good sized chunk of Bill’s fiction before the rest of the world and for a time, there was a period where nearly every one of our stories shared page space, (including part 1 of the Hill Clan Trilogy, which was republished in the September issue of Playboy.) We even participated in this thing over at Elaine Ash’s blog.
With as familiar as I am with Bill’s output, the story I kept coming back to when I read and then re-read his debut collection, Crimes In Southern Indiana, is “The Need”. The story originally appeared as a couplet of pieces (along with “Tweakers”) at the webzine Beat To A Pulp. Both pieces were hard bitten tastes of rural noir featuring Conservation Officer Moon and both were powerful pieces of writing. But for one reason or another, “The Need” struck a chord with me.
The story’s focus is on a Afghan war vet named
One night, good old boy Brady Basham stops by
What most impressed me with “The Need” was Bill’s ability to switch gears from the rough hewn fiction I was used to reading, to a far slicker, almost commercial style of story telling. Not that “The Need” still didn’t contain the same rough backwoods language that you came to expect from a Bill story, but reading “The Need” was almost like reading a traditional thriller along the same lines as Morrell. Wayne is a disenfranchised, lonely man who has been forced into too many situations beyond his control—too much death and betrayal—and the reader immediately empathizes with his brutal history.
No, “The Need” is not the most accomplished piece in Crimes In Southern Indiana, but in my opinion, it felt like Bill had reached a turning point in his career with the “Double Bill” of Frank Bill which “The Need” was apart of.
Or maybe I know Jack and Shit and Frank had actually turned the corner with “Flesh Rule”?
All I know is I’m damn proud of my friend Frank Bill and I’m convinced Crimes In Southern Indiana is the first step in a long career. So if you haven’t already picked up your copy of Crimes yet, you can do so right HERE.