Rusty Barnes’s Mostly Redneck, is, in fact, not “mostly redneck,” at least not in the way most would think of “redneck.” There are a few yokels, some pickups, a shotgun, but the pages are not inhabited by slack-jawed, one-overall-strap-loose, hill folk. The stories in this collection follow real people in all situations. For instance, in “This is What They Call Adventure,” Bob, who is simple, feeds the hens and meets a girl:
Once when Bob looked up, they were—all of those girls—standing in a line with their shirts off and their boobies pointed at him. When they saw that he saw them, they broke and ran, laughing, except for Matalia, who looked like a movie person to Bob; long brown hair, vinyl-blue eyes; her thick glasses hid nothing from Bob.
This and seventeen other short stories are told in direct, no-nonsense prose and rely on each other, creating an overall personality for the characters in the collection: observant, not directly in the action, impacted but separate. This collection is best read in a few bursts, perhaps alongside a novel, but not all at once. Each character and story has a weight which makes this impossible in a pleasing way. Mostly Redneck is perfect for the reader who likes to lay aside and digest.