'Here [is] a new order of short story,' said H. L. Mencken when Winesburg, Ohio was published in 1919. 'It is so vivid, so full of insight, so shiningly life-like and glowing, that the book is lifted into a category all its own.
Anderson's 1919 story collection about the secretive inhabitants of a small town was an instant classic. This production probably looked like a great idea on paper: Gather twenty-five well-known authors, including Richard Ford, Elizabeth Berg, Paul Auster, Richard Russo, Russell Banks and Michael Cunningham, to each read one of the stories. Too bad the end result is uneven and sloppy. While some of the narrators sound natural and convincing, others seem preoccupied and ill prepared. Anderson's characters deserve better.