Review of "Rock" by Katrina Parker Williams

Enslavement, murder, abuse, illness: there’s real trouble for the characters in Trouble Down South and Other Stories. The short stories take the reader on a journey to the past through a collection of interestingly crafted pieces of flawed humanness, social injustice, and redemption, and even humor.

The short story collection of historical fiction chronicles events spanning more than 150 years and addresses a wide range of experiences from African-American perspectives. The stories are set in the South amid a changing landscape in which the characters are forced to wrestle with the social issues surrounding Native Americans, slavery, racism, Prohibition, World War I, the Korean War, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, health, religion, mental illness, and education.

This review is for a single story in the short story collection by Williams.  "Rock" tells the story of a colored soldier after he returns home from serving his country honorably in WWII.  This is a very simple story which, as I thought about it, kind of suited the simple people it described.

Rock, the afore mentioned soldier, is essentially abused and treated with contempt despite his having saved the life of a white man.  While his situation is pitiable, I found it difficult to really connect with Rock.  No character quirks are really given.  Rock could have been any stranger.  In a short story, I feel that it's important to immediately connect with the character in some way.  Especially in cases of such extreme injustice.

There were a few run-on sentences, but overall the writing style in the story is solid.  The author does a nice job giving you a feel for the time period in which this story takes place.

3/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez


  1. I have to say, I was mildly curious about the content of the other stories. Could you possibly tell us about them, Katrina?

  2. Yay for the first review!

    This collection sounds especially interesting to me, as a Native Californian who's now transplanted in the Deep South.

    Is it available on Amazon?

    Shana Hammaker
    METAMORPHOSIS, Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

  3. Good heavens, Shana, a native Californian?? I had no idea. Where did you live?

    And yes, the collection is available on Amazon for 99 cents.

  4. Yep! Born in Azusa, and raised in the Bay Area--San Jose, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, etc. etc.

    I left when I was 18 for Pennsylvania, then moved on to Ohio, and have lived in Tennessee for 10 years now. (My God, it's been awhile!)

    My little sister and her family live in San Diego, BTW.

    Shana Hammaker
    METAMORPHOSIS, Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

  5. Hi Shana, thanks for the Yay. I am excited about the review. As Alain says, the short story collection is available on Amazon in e-book and print editions.

    Alain, the stories in the collection span more than 150 years and deal with social issues that have affected people in the South, primarily African Americans.

    Here is a brief summary of the stories in Trouble Down South and Other Stories.

    “Revolt in the Cherokee Nation” is a prose piece about the Native American slave revolt against Joseph Vann in 1842.

    “Slave Auction” is a story about a four-year-old boy sold from his mother into slavery.

    “Bastard Slave” is a story about a half-white slave who inherits land from his master/father. A relative doesn’t believe the land should go to him, and a struggle for it ensues.

    "Grandpa's Courtship" is a humorous tale of a southern farmer, working in the cornfields setting out a row of corn, who is reprimanded for not asking to the church picnic his female suitor seeking a God-sent man for a husband.

    The same character Buford Tee appears in both “Faces in the Wall” and “Rock.” They are two of the more violent stories in the collections, dealing with racism and corrupt county sheriffs.

    “The House Down the Dirt Lane” is loosely based on a shell-shocked war veteran who lived down the dirt lane from our house growing up.

    “The Field Worker” is a story about a white college student who goes to Mississippi during the summer of 1964, also known as Freedom Summer, risking his life to help get blacks registered to vote.

    “The Toll of His War” is a prose piece about a Vietnam Vet returning home from War.

    “The Fear of My Father” and “Ms. Pimmelly’s City” are two stories close to my heart. They focus on people and locations dear to me.

    Thanks for allowing me to share these stories with you.

    Katrina Parker Williams


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