By Gabrielle Fellows
“Car Bombs to Cookie Tables,” an anthology of stories that give ode to Youngstown and the people that live in it, was premiered last Saturday at the B&O Station.
The event consisted of readings from the book, speeches from some of the authors and contributors and a meal consisting of pizza and an array of cookies.
Christopher Barzak, who has a piece in the book, said that “Car Bombs to Cookie Tables” is different than anything else that has come out of the Youngstown area so far because it shows the character of the city from a personal level.
“The anthology is a cultural artifact, a lot of people, all they say is jobs, jobs, jobs — jobs don’t create a place. These kinds of things do,” Barzak said. “If you don’t create an active dialogue [within the community] — you don’t have a community. We need jobs, but we also need culture.”
Rochelle Hurt, a published poet who also has pieces in “Car Bombs to Cookie Tables” agrees with Barzak and said that the culture of Youngstown is one that has its own special touch, that those who belong to Youngstown carry its influence with them throughout their life and through their work.
“I grew up on the west side of Youngstown. It has given me a fascination with the dark and industrial,” Hurt said. “I live in Cincinnati now, and [Youngstown’s influence] stays with me.”
John McNally, mayor of Youngstown, said that he thinks the anthology shows a view of the city in a unique timeline, one that outsiders can use to understand the inner workings of the rustbelt’s citizens.
“It’s great having an anthology to give a different perspective what Youngstown was, what it is and how it’s transforming into what it will be,” McNally said.
President Jim Tressel believes that the anthology creates an active dialogue between the city and its people, something that Youngstown desperately needed in order to connect the past to the future.
“History and pride in the city is so important, especially for those who have worked and lived here for a number of years,” Tressel said. “They make this place what it is, and this anthology shows that.”