Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 30, 2014

The Book Worm book reviews come to Daily News

By Amanda Browning Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — This is the first installment of a bi-monthly book review column that will be published in the Daily News.

I prefer to read fiction, but I enjoy biographies and some non-fiction work as well, particularly anything to do with history. I will happily accept requests for book reviews. Please contact me at amanda.browning@greensburgdailynews.com for more information.

My favorite genres include historical fiction, horror, paranormal fiction and science fiction, among many others. I’ve been a lover of words all my life and look forward to sharing my opinion on a wide range of books with readers.

The first review of the Book Worm centers on Dirtyville Rhapsodies by Josh Green.

Book description: Do you really know your neighbors, America? Look again. Look closer. This darkly comic short story collection focuses on ordinary people caught in all manner of conundrums, fiascoes, and legal dilemmas, much of it their own stinking fault. Set mostly in Atlanta (capital of the “Dirty South”), Dirtyville Rhapsodies features everyday folks who overcome vice and personal tragedy, scoundrels so foul they attract news headlines, and the wayward souls who find salvation in society’s crevasses. Some of them will weave meaning from pratfalls, devastating loss, and downright stupidity. And some won’t.

This collection of short stories was written by Josh Green, a man who used to live in Greensburg and wrote for the Daily News, so my interest was piqued before I ever picked up the book. I loved the cover. Its design is bold and eye catching, the abstract feel leaving the reader wondering what they will encounter between the pages.

Green does not disappoint. I am usually not a big fan of short stories, as I prefer to delve deeper into a novel. But Green’s tales held my interest all the way through to the end. Each story in Dirtyville Rhapsodies touches on some aspect of humanity. Some are funny, some touching and some terribly sad.

I believe Green does an excellent job of conveying the emotions of the characters through each story, offering a truly unique “voice” for each one. With a collection of single-author stories, there is always the danger that the characters won’t be different enough to be distinguishable.

However, Green manages to avoid that pitfall, spinning original tales that feature characters that could be based on real people in many towns across America. It was easy to connect with many of the characters because they could have been a number of the people I know.

I won’t spoil the details of any of the stories because they are all so short, but they cover a wide range of subjects and emotions. There is a story for almost any mood in a convenient single-serving size. This would be a fabulous book to take on a road trip or to the beach.

From speaking to Green, I know one or two of the characters were based on people he knew while living in Greensburg, which added another level of interest for me, as curiosity led me to try to identify anyone that sounded familiar. It was an impossible task because Green makes his characters so very real, so human that they truly could be anyone, in any city.

Dirtyville Rhapsodies was an enjoyable read for me. It is a collection I am happy to have in paperback and one that will grace my shelves for years to come, offering many enjoyable re-reads. Green’s unique way of describing everyday situations brings the stories to life in a way that is worthy of revisiting.

I’ve loaned this book to several people and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fiction and is looking for a quick read.

I give Dirtyville Rhapsodies 5 Apples

Rating Scale

5 Apples- Great book, would recommend to others; 4 Apples- Some issues, but still a good book and would recommend; 3 Apples- Frequent issues, worth reading once but wouldn’t revisit; 2 Apples- Did not enjoy, but managed to finish. Would not recommend; Wormy Apple- Did not finish, don’t waste your time.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004; amanda.browning@greensburgdailynews.com