A collection of linked stories, Boulevard Women, by Lauren Cobb, floated into Flagpole at the end of last week and promptly got read by the author of this column, who was enjoying poor health. “Linked stories” means they’re like a novel, since they concern the same characters and locations, but because they’re separate stories, the emphasis shifts from character to character.
The author, while she may prove to have some relatives here, is apparently not an Athens Cobb, just as the stories, though set on our Boulevard, are not really about Athens. Ms. Cobb has written tellingly about three women—one elderly, one heading past middle age and one in high school. They are unlikely neighbors on Boulevard, and they become surprising friends. Ms. Cobb makes the reader care about each of them, though the supporting characters are less closely drawn.
The accompanying information tells us that Ms. Cobb was in Athens while earning her doctorate in writing at UGA, and the Athens that backgrounds her people’s lives has that feel of being sketched in from the elements at hand when Ms. Cobb was writing. Had she been at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa would have served as well. The point of it is these three women and their complicated lives, and it really doesn’t matter where they live, though it is fun visualizing the scenes of Boulevard and beyond, noting what she gets right and wrong and what she leaves vague. A cameo appearance by Tony Eubanks wouldn’t really have added that much to the plot. This reader recommends Boulevard Women but hopes you do not have to resort to poor health before you’ll curl up with it.
Boulevard Women is published by BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It will be out Dec. 1, and surely not too long after that it will be available at Avid Bookshop.
This is Ms Cobb’s first book.
It’s Your Turn
It’s time to remember Slackpole, dear readers, the holiday tradition whereby you help us write Flagpole, so that we can slack off and enjoy us some holidays. Here’s how it works. Right now, send us a story you’ve written or are writing about something or somebody interesting or funny or amazing right here in Athens, along with some cool photographs or drawings. Or even send us a graphic story that you have illustrated, or comics or games or puzzles.
Yes, we’ll take anything, as long as it’s well done and interesting. Your laundry or grocery list could be enjoyable to read if you write it in a fun way.
This year, since Slackpole falls on the holidays, we’re suggesting that you write about your best and worst holiday experiences, your bowl game trivia, your holiday advice for handling stress, hangovers and leftovers.
Keep it short and snappy; send it now rather than later.
We’ll take all your contributions and fit those we can use into this year’s Slackpole edition, which will be published in the last Flagpole issue of the year, a combination issue that includes both Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 and will hang around the newsstands and paper boxes longer than most Flagpoles. So, your writing will be out there longer for our readers (that’s also you) to enjoy.
Meanwhile, thanks to your efforts, the Flagpole staff can be spending time with family and friends and winding down after another strenuous year at the ‘Pole, confident in the knowledge that, thanks to all your great contributions, Flagpole is in good hands. But hurry: the deadline is 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2.
This year, give the gift of writing, or drawing or photography. These gifts will live on in the hearts of your fellow men and women and, especially, in the hearts of your Flagpole staffers as we celebrate the joys of Christmas slack.
Send submissions to email@example.com.