The good folks at Don Ron Books have recently followed up their highly-praised Philly Fiction anthology with a sequel: Philly Fiction 2. This collection does a wonderful job of gathering some of the area’s finest writers to conjure a vision of Philadelphia that is both realistic and touching. Among the authors featured in this volume are Elise Juska (author of Getting Over Jack Wagner and One for Sorrow, Two for Joy), Susan Balee (book critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer), and Beth Goldner (author of The Number We End Up With), and the stories have been culled from a number of respected literary journals including The Hudson Review and Philadelphia Stories. Needless to say, the end result is a highly engaging collection that paints a moving picture of the City of Brotherly Love.
What emerges in this collection is a city of battered sedans parked in front of run-down row homes, but also a city that has given rise to sprawling suburbs and Honda dealerships. And, like the city itself, the characters all come alive with their odd idiosyncracies and secret desires. There’s the car dealer who suspects his deceased wife of having had an affair with his best customer. There’s the straight-laced classics scholar who falls in love with a girl in penguin panties. There’s the spurned college student who, years later, comes to find that the love of his life is just another suburban housewife leading a life of not-so-quiet desperation. And, in one of my favorite pieces, there’s the girl from the suburbs who visits her all-too-mature cousin in Northeast Philly only to learn that hanging with the big kids isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. These stories are all told with loving attention to the details that make Philadelphia all that it is — a city, a people, a home, and a character in its own right. A must-read for anyone who loves the City of Brotherly Love.