The Night of the Flood

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

An interesting concept that is about 85% successful - if you were a fan of the flashbacks in Lost in which all the characters sort of interact or bounce off each other around a central event I think this will be an enjoyable read. 
 The pieces that didn't work for me were either a bit cliched or the style just wasn't my cup of tea; there are a few clear Stephen King fans contributing, which is great, but he's not a master of believable dialogue by any means and those short stories were a rough read for me.  The twists/crimes can get a little repetitive as there's a heavy reliance on letting the flood cover up the narrator's misdeeds but, honestly, who wouldn't behave the same way?  A solid recommend.
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The Night of the Flood (Down & Out Books), edited by E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen, is the second antholgoy masquerading as a novel in as many weeks, the other being Culprits: The Heist Was Just the Beginning (Polis Books), edited by Richard Brewer and Gary Phillips (review). Is there a name for these things like novology or anthovel? Probably not and that might be a good thing given my examples.

Aymar and Chen have been on a publicity tear over the last few weeks and so you probably already know what’s going on. If you don’t, here is Chen explaining the novel’s premise to Dana King:

It’s a novel-in-stories told from fourteen different perspectives that centers around one night of chaos in Everton, a small fictional Pennsylvania town. It all begins when the first female in modern times is executed in Pennsylvania. This sets off a group of passionate female activists to blow up the town’s dam in protest. What follows is an opportunity for crooks and killers to wreak havoc on the town while with some folks, it’s all about survival.

Aymar and Chen have gotten a slew of crime writers to participate Rob Brunet, Angel Luis Colón, Hilary Davidson, Mark Edwards, Gwen Florio, Elizabeth Heiter, J.J. Hensley, Jennifer Hillier, Shannon Kirk, Jenny Milchman, Alan Orloff, and Wendy Tyson. There were quite a few stories that stood out for me like Hensley’s “The Copy Man”, Mark Edwards’ “The Curse”, Wendy Tyson’s “Anything Worth Saving”, and Shannon Kirk’s “Carter Hank McKater Takes a Sedative at One in the A.M.” Heck, even Angel Luis Colón’s Blacky Jaguar makes an appearance. Some of the stories were intricately interconnected and it took me a minute or two to figure out what was going on, but that could just be me. The Night of the Flood is a fun experiment with some fantastic storytelling and none of the writers phoned it in which is high praise for an anthology.
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The Night of the Flood is a very ingenious anthology of the short stories of fourteen excellent authors which all take place in the small poor imaginary Pennsylvania town of Everton on the night the Big Dam was blown up to make a political statement.  The diversity of the minds behind these short tales are very impressive.  This is an adventurous grouping of shorts I can gladly refer to friends and family. 

I received a free electronic copy of this grouping of shorts from Netgalley and Down and Out Books in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
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The Night of the Flood is a collection of fourteen stories framed around a catastrophic flood in the fictional town of Everton, Pennsylvania. Misdirection is already afoot since the flood is not a natural disaster, but an act of vengeance for a miscarriage of justice. David Brooks at The New York Times once said that Pennsylvania is Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other, and Alabama in the middle. Everton is in the Alabama part, and the fourteen authors here do their best in the short fiction format to show characters and situations that could have stepped out of the pages of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone or J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. Each story has voice and style, drama and pathos. No small accomplishment. Be forewarned that there is profanity and violence.

These dark tales will make you think uncomfortable thoughts, of how the judicial system dispenses Old Testament justice rather than New Testament compassion and understanding, of how a small town in America is easily forgotten, swept away because it is poor and invisible. I couldn’t help but think of recent disasters such as the floods in Puerto Rico and the aftermath of Katrina, or the lethal interactions between citizens and Authority, past and present. The worst of times test the individual and society. Readers can choose between cynicism or cautious optimism in the stories. How would you act? What would you do? Everton is a noir version of George Bailey’s Bedford Falls.

I’m grateful to NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy.
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I really struggled with this one. I always finish a book when it’s from Netgalley but I admit I was skim reading by the last few chapters. Not for me this one. However, it was well written so give it a go.
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Absolutely amazing!  This volume is masterful.  It takes the story of a natural disaster (okay, here it is not quite natural as the dam breaking was caused by activists angry at the justice system trying to wreak their own version of justice), which could have been any flood, hurricane, wildfire, anything of biblical proportions and shows society coming apart at its seams.  Its done with its successive chapter written by a different author, but that almost does not matter because the result is so stunning and the quality is so high throughout that it could have been written with one pen, not many.  It is gritty, dark, compelling crime fiction through and through with riots, looting, serial killers, desperate people, fallen people, tricked people, would-be bank robbers, one gun against three, battered spouses, truckers lost on the roads straying into all-out hell, all trying to survive as the floodwater rise and rise and rise.  This is just great stuff.
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The Night of the Flood is a mystery told in several voices by several authors. Each chapter tells a different part of the story from a different point of view. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but because an author that I enjoy was among the authors in this book I wanted to read it. The story takes place in Everton, PA. A woman is set to be executed after being found guilty of murder. It starts out with a letter from a domestic terrorist group called “The Daughters” who feel she shouldn’t have been executed because she was actually a victim and that if she was executed and not given a stay that they would blow up a dam. Each subsequent chapter takes place after the dam is blown up.

We are given points of view and stories from looters, victims, serial killers, bank robbers, murderers, etc. We are taken all over Everton–the laundromat, the high school, the bank, the rich neighborhood and the motel to name a few places.

The book does not flow like a regular novel, and I didn’t expect it to because there are 14 different authors writing it, but it all works so well together. Some of the characters tie in together and are mentioned across more than story (with the exception of The Daughters who tie the entire book together). Some of the stories did feel like they dragged on for a bit. The majority of the stories I really enjoyed. Some of my favorite stories featured in this book were Marta by Gwen Florio, The Darkest Hour by Hilary Davidson, Carter Hank Takes a Sedative at One in the A.M. by Shannon Kirk, and And the Water Kept Rising by Alan Orloff.

It isn’t the type of book I read anymore, but it was a very enjoyable read. I would recommend it to others looking for something thrilling to read.
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