In Bleachers, the debut short fiction collection by award-winning poet Joseph Mills, fifty-four stories take place during two youth soccer games, capturing the thoughts, concerns, realizations, and perspectives of the parents on the sidelines and in the stands. As these spectators watch (or don’t watch) the players on the field, their narratives interweave to form a portrait of community and of parenting—always unpredictable, often complicated, and rarely what it seems. From A to Z (“Aging” to “Zidane”), Bleachers can be read as a primer on parenting and family, as well as a paean to sports. If, as Dr. King said, Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America, then Saturday morning may be the most integrated as families gather to experience the victories and losses, both great and small, of the game that brings them together, “forming, then breaking apart, then reforming . . . . temporarily cohering” as a team.
(from the Amazon description)
I don’t usually quote praise, but in this case I’ll make an exception as I think the review below (from Jamie Rogers Southern, Bookmarks, as per the author’s website) very accurately describes what readers might get from this book:
“I am not sure I have encountered a writer who can so completely, and continuously, blindside me with a smack of emotion as Joseph Mills always does. Reading several of these stories, I was nodding along, thinking yep, yep, yep . . . and then WHOA. I found pieces of myself in so many of the parents, and so clearly identified other family members and people I know in some of the other characters. I love the connections between the stories and how he perfectly captures life as a parent. This is simply fantastic.”
As a parent myself, I couldn’t have said it better!
More about this collection
Charlotte’s Reader Podcast – an episode focusing on this collection
An example of the author’s poems – in As It Ought To Be Magazine