A stunning new collection of short fiction ... The first-person-plural of the story is only one of the thrilling narrative devices that McIlwain uses to tell her linked stories ... McIlwain brings to life a luminous world of plants and animals that even the extraction industries, sleazy bettors and smooth-talking city hunters "with slick cars and six-figure salaries" cannot destroy
The 22 stories in Sidle Creek charm, surprise, and convey a deep love of the people and place McIlwain has long called home ... Sidle Creek's stories largely focus on people who are making their lives where they were born and raised, as well as some who have come from away — and the small and large dramas of their lives are rendered in beautiful prose.
While fracking and mining are alluded to, the book seems blissfully (or foolishly?) disengaged from the climate crisis, as though there are still pockets of nature untouched by human activity. Still, McIlwain writes beautifully of the work that people do ... At the same time, a few stories get invested in extending metaphors at the expense of illuminating human heartache. And while the conflict between amoral city men and vigilante country folk may flare up sometimes in real life, it feels tired here.