Congratulations to Tom Biel, an award-winning Milwaukee author and public school teacher, on the release of his collection of linked short stories, Badlands.
I’m pleased to have been hired by Tom to give the work a bit of editorial polishing. It’s always a delight to work with great, well-worked material that only needs a bit of tweaking to make it a little better.
The collection has already earned some very nice praise from an author I respect highly, Larry Watson:
“Badlands is full of vivid images, striking turns of phrase, original metaphors, and funny, touching moments.”
– Larry Watson, author of Montana 1948 and American Boy
Biel’s linked collection of short stories presents the coming-of-age tales of two teen boys, young Matthew Davis and his best friend, Idaho Wells, and their friends, set in a small town in Montana in the 1960s.
The stories are gently humorous and at the same time very touching. I first heard the stories at a reading at Redbird, a local writers’ studio, and laughed out loud with the rest of the crowd as Tom read an excerpt from one of the stories about a first date with a beautiful girl, gone awry. These are familiar, funny stories. I think maybe I was there too in my own youth, hanging out with these kids in that small town.
The overhanging pall of the Vietnam War and the impact on young people in the 1960s and early ’70s also brought back memories of my own teenage days, wondering if I’d get swept up in the draft, whether to go for CO (conscientious objector) status before seeing what my draft number was – or to wait it out and then apply for the CO exemption if need be.
Badlands made me remember why I love to read short stories: how they can capture moments of innocence, growth, awkwardness, adolescence, humor and surprise, all wrapped in the remarkable thing we call a story.
If you like to read good short stories, check out Badlands by Thomas Biel.