The thing with collections, especially of the anthology variation, seems two-fold at least, one it's very hard to nail a collection from start to finish, not an original thought by any means, and not an even an original thought on this blog frankly, and two, they have to mean something, or more accurately, maybe, the stories have to not just highlight your purpose for creating said collection in the first place, but somehow make it sing, or laugh, and something more than being there as a mere symbol or bold effort at trying to say whatever it is you thought you wanted to say. Which we suppose brings us to Shut Up/Look Pretty from the Tiny Hardcore Press and 15 Views of Orlando from Burrow Press.
The latter is looking to unequivocally make a statement about the fact that you think you may know something about Orlando, just like you think you might know New York City, Los Angeles, and maybe even Chicago, but what you know is so wildly incomplete, there's no choice but to find a bunch of terrific writers of Orlandian descent or connection to grab some slice of the city and illuminate those parts you are undoubtedly clueless about. The strip malls and divey bars, and the people you've never met, and make it real. Give it flavor, and vibrancy. Which they do in pieces that are good throughout, though maybe especially those by Jay Hafner, Chris Heavener, Lindsay Hunter, and Philip F. Deaver.
The Shut Up/Look Pretty, is saying something else, even if it isn't saying it outright. Female indie writers are underrepresented in indie journals and magazines, but what does that mean, and how is it possible? Because they're out there and here we may have only five of them, but take a fucking look, these writers should be everywhere, so please do get on that. Further, fewer published pieces by women means fewer pieces that recognize the female perspective on the things everyone writes about, relationships and work and death, all of it, but also the things women face in ways men don't and do not grasp, violence, threat, and oppression. And these things need to be heard, are here, should be elsewhere, and more so at that. Again there is a continuity of goodness in the collection, but even with that said, we do want to proffer big shout-outs to Lauren Becker and Amber Sparks in particular who's pieces bookend the Shut Up/Look Pretty in a very fine fashion indeed.