Starred review from September 3, 2007
In a kind of literary Rear Window, Myers (The Blues of Flats Brown, reviewed above) uses 10 short stories to create snapshots of a pulsing, vibrant community with diverse ethnic threads, through all of its ups and downs. Beginning with the tale of a wry character who stages his own funeral on a sweltering 4th of July to celebrate the money he has received from canceling his life insurance policy, Myers then follows with a chilling story of a cop shootout gone wrong. Many of the stories are told through the voices of witty, intelligent teens; Jamie Farrell, in particular, is a standout as he relates his changing luck in "The Streak" and makes other cameo appearances. But even the more poignant stories told in the third person--such as that of Billy Giles, a middling fighter hired by the local gym to make contenders look good, and "Angela's Eyes," infused with superstition, in which Angela possesses the ability to foresee death and destruction through her late father's eyes--keep an inviting, conversational tone. Myers creates an overall effect of sitting on the front stoop swapping stories of the neighborhood. Most readers will find that they could settle in for hours and take it all in. Ages 12-up.