If I had to choose only one word to describe this collection of short stories, it would be “raw.” Each one of these ten stories was real, sometimes crude, and very original. These stories weren’t always comfortable to read, and several ended so abruptly I was left feeling incomplete. Isn’t that one of the marks of a great short story? When it leaves you wanting more? I believe so.
Each of these short stories are set in Oklahoma. Originally from Oklahoma, I personally loved all of the references to my home state. (The description of the chicken fried steak at Cheever’s made me homesick.) At first, I was worried that the characters and situations in the story would be stereotypical–ignorant cowboys, country bumpkins outrunning the tornadoes, living in a flyover state–but that wasn’t true at all. These characters were troubled and flawed and honest. Their lives aren’t easy and they struggle with the hardships that they have been given. But these hardships come in all shapes and sizes. They aren’t always financial but they are always personal. With each story, I felt that I was being given a personal invite into the characters’ secret, harsh, distressing thoughts.
These stories aren’t for the squeamish. Some descriptions, topics, and situations are comfortable to read about, but that is what makes each story so good. The author doesn’t hold back. Two of my favorite stories, “Brought to you By Anonymous” and “Amid the Flood of Mortal Ills” were such unique stories, almost dystopian in nature. Both were stories that I didn’t want to end. I would recommend this book to all of my reader friends, not just those living in Oklahoma.
A big thank you to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for gifting me with an advanced copy for my honest review.
Five Hundred Poor by Noah Milligan
Publish Date: June 1, 2018 by Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction
Where I read: In the kitchen while I made guacamole
Stephenie’s Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars