June 4, 2019
St. Louis is undoubtedly fragmented, physically so in that the city is dissected by rivers, highways, walls, and fences; but also in a more insidious way. It’s a city (like many) where race, class, religion, and zip code might as well be cards in a rigged poker game, where the winners’ prize is the ability to ignore that the losers have drastically shorter life expectancies. But it's also a city of warmth, love, and beauty—especially in its contrasts. The people sipping rakija and dancing kolo in bars along Gravois are as St. Louis as those doing double Dutch outside Pruitt-Igoe. Midnight Annie and Stan Musial both built their legacies in this same city. This anthology is a love letter to those moments and people—and all the others—that are so St. Louis. It's also an indictment of this fact: rare is the St. Louisan who can recognize them all. Rare is the St. Louisan who can see that the rage that burnt down the QuikTrip on West Florissant after Mike Brown was killed, and the optimism of the little girls dancing in its parking lot the next morning, are both so St. Louis.
The St. Louis Anthology dares to confront the city's nostalgia and its trauma, celebrating those who have faced both, living complex and nuanced lives in this city against a backdrop of its red brick, muddy rivers, and sticky summer nights when the symphony of cicadas and jazz is almost loud enough to drown out the gunshots.
Edited by Ryan Schuessler, featuring nearly 70 pieces penned by St. Louis writers, journalists, clergy, poets, and activists including Aisha Sultan, Galen Gritts, Vivian Gibson, Maja Sadikovic, Nartana Premachandra, Sophia Benoit, Robert Langellier, Samuel Autman, Umar Lee, and more.
Praise for The St. Louis Anthology:
"This city riven by politics, money, geography, perceived class, it’s all of ours and it is reflected, warts and all, in The St. Louis Anthology." -- Riverfront Times
"One of America's most infamous river cities comes roaring to life in this haunting, enigmatic, and musical literary anthology. A small town with big-city ambitions, a Catholic stronghold, home to one of the biggest breweries in the world, and a flyover town that was once one of the largest cities in the United States, St. Louis is a study in contrasts and contains an essence that is difficult to capture. In the latest in the publisher's city anthologies series (previous volumes have covered Detroit, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, among others), St. Louis-raised, Chicago-based journalist Schuessler presents a mix of prose and poetry. The book assumes the herculean task of bringing to life a city that is integral to American history while also proving unfindable on a map by most Americans. 'St. Louis is undoubtedly fragmented, physically so in that the city is dissected by rivers, highways, walls, and fences; but also in a more insidious way,' writes the editor in the introduction. 'It's a city (like many) where race, class, religion, and zip code might as well be cards in a rigged poker game, where the winners' prize is the ability to ignore that the losers have drastically shorter life expectancies. But it's also a city of warmth, love, and beauty—especially in its contrasts.' Divided into three sections—Histories, Memories, and Realities—the anthology gives readers a dazzling portrait of a Midwestern city whose relationships among socio-economics, religion, civil rights, and class are consistently complex. In Nick Sacco's short essay, the writer discusses the complicated history of the city's Italian immigrants, capturing that neighborhood's inexorable charm and racial and religious xenophobia. Jason Vasser-Elong's biting poetry brings to life the Delmar Loop, a vibrant area with a complicated racial history that inspired artists like Chuck Berry, while Alice Azure's poetry in 'Downtown St. Louis' highlights that area's commercial vitality while also addressing the homeless population that is largely ignored. A satisfying love letter to a charming city that has many faces and identities." -- Kirkus Reviews