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 Short Story Collection Review    



From the Heart 2:
More Stories of Love and Friendship
compiled by Kendall Bell
Coastal Village Press, 2004
Trade paper, $14.95 (191 pages)
ISBN: 1-882943-21-X

Kendall Bell has edited an anthology meant for the way real people live, which is to say, he's deliberately designed the book so the reader doesn't have to read the entire collection at one sitting. Each story stands alone, has a distinctive voice, and is meant to be savored. Taking love and friendship as a theme, these stories are, by turns, hilarious, heartbreaking, and life-affirming. 

Coastal Village Press, for those readers who may be unfamiliar with it, is "dedicated to helping to preserve the timeless values of traditional places along America's Atlantic Coast ....." The writers included list hometowns as far away as Scottsdale, Arizona; Cedar Hill, Utah; Boise, Idaho; Sacramento, California; Merrimack, New Hampshire; and Poughkeepsie, New York, proving yet again, that traditional American ideals are intact. 

This series began as "a thought of creating something positive for a hurting nation" after 9/11. Bell, at the time an editor with The Beaufort Gazette, talked with his friends about creating something "assuring us that God was in control," and "comforting." Almost 2,000 submissions, from almost every state in the union, were received for this book. 

Using love as the universal theme, Bell selected stories as varied as a young man's love of God, an au pair's first date and subsequent marriage to an Alabama man, a daughter's love for her mother, and a daughter's love for her father. 

In "Arnold's Tattoo," Crystal Bell, the daughter of the editor and whose photograph graces the book's cover, turned a class assignment for a high school writing assignment into both an homage to a beloved classmate who died, and a commentary on God's love and her own faith, reminding readers that most of the important lessons in life aren't learned in a classroom. 

In "Parlez-Vous Francais?" Sandrine Hope contributes a humorous vignette about meeting a housepainter who parlays the only French phrase he knows into a full-blown romance and a ten year (and counting) marriage to an au pair. 

Linda Schopper writes a love letter to her mother, a woman who bore and raised eight children. 

Full disclosure demands that Joyce Dixon, editor and publisher of Southern Scribe's website, be acknowledged as one of the contributors. Her memoir, "Beware of Driver," is a sweet and poignant recollection of a father and daughter relationship that "seems .... (to have) taken place in the car." Several other stories came from members of The Southern Porch, a chat mailing list hosted by Southern Scribe. 

Released on Motherís Day, 2004, From the Heart 2 is a collection about giving and sharing intended for giving and sharing. 

Kendall Bell, who has worked with The Charlotte Observer, The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News, The Lancaster, and The Beaufort Gazette, is currently an editor with The Sumter Item. Let Us Prey, his mystery novel, is scheduled to be published later in 2004.


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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