Surely, you’ve noticed it, the way that the cicadas hum slightly louder, the sun seems to descend just a bit sooner, and there is ever so imperceptibly a bit of a chill in the early evening breeze. Summer is still here, but not for long. But why mourn for those last few weeks before vacations end and semesters begin when there are still burgers to grill and lawn-chairs to sit in? So, if you’re lucky enough to have an afternoon or three at Presque Isle or Ottawa Beach, at Big Bay State Park or Fairport Harbor, we’ve got you covered for the dog-days-of-summer-reading. For the past year we’ve been running a series of excerpts from dynamic independent, academic, and small press publications who’ve provided a forum for authors from the Rust Belt writing about the Rust Belt. There are still dozens of incredible excerpts we’re planning on running in the coming year, but in the meantime, pour yourself a Burning River Pale Ale or a Leinenkugel, grab a kielbasa off the grill, charge up your phone and catch up on your Belt reading.

“Small Town Sins” by Ken Jaworowski

“I’d recently finished my junior year of high school and was kicking around a few ideas on how to get out of Locksburg, a Central Pennsylvania backwater I’d wanted to flee ever since I was old enough to misspell its name.”


“The Bootleg Coal Rebellion: The Pennsylvania Miners Who Seized an Industry, 1925-1935” by Mitch Troutman

Hundreds of angry miners crowded around the machine, several attacking it with hammers and axes. Finally, fifteen sticks of dynamite were placed under the motor, and a firing wire and exploders attached. A few minutes later there was a terrific blast and the shovel was reduced to a tangled mass of wreckage.”


“The Good Country: A History of the American Midwest, 1800-1900” by Jon K. Lauck

“Once the cobwebs are cleared off old journals, long-forgotten records consulted, and the veil of stereotypes pierced, a remarkable world is discovered.”


“The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War” by Jeff Sharlett

“As the flagship political site of the movement, Elam’s A Voice for Men functioned as the closest thing there was to a center, an intelligence, a superego to the bloggy manosphere id of lust and fury. Just how big the whole thing was, nobody could say. More than fringe, less than mainstream, but at three a.m., sitting with Elam in his hotel room, I wasn’t looking for numbers. Size didn’t matter. What I wanted to know from Elam was, what does it all mean?”


“Sidle Creek” by Jolene McIlwain

“I know the guy who’s doing the killing and I know why. Pap told me when he was lit on homemade pruno Sharkie’s uncle taught him to make.”


“Tar Hollow Trans” by Stacy Jane Grover

“I don’t have enough memories to draw on to fit the form, and I can’t fake it without moving into the realm of fiction, without lying to myself, no matter how nice a story it would make, no matter how very rural or Appalachian these stories could present me.”


“Weird Moments in Cleveland Sports: Bottlegate, Bedbugs, and Burying the Pennant” by Vince Guerrieri

“And so during lunchtime on June 24, 1980, Stepien leaned out from the 52nd floor of the tower, looking down at a crowd around 5,000 that had gathered at ground level to watch. ‘This is bad,’ he said (as later recounted in Cleveland Magazine). ‘I’m really going to hurt somebody.'”


Play Like a Man: My Life in Poster Children by Rose Marshack

“I was a geek who loved role-playing games and knitted Dr. Who scarves in high school. I was the quintessential rule-follower and would cry and beg if I scored an A– on a quiz. But now, I’d discovered punk rock.”


A Bar in Toledo: The Untold Story of a Mafia Front Man and a Grammy-Winning Song by Dominic Vaiana and Stephanie Abbajay

“It was a Saturday evening in the summer of 1974 when Duane Abbajay realized his American Dream was devolving into an American Nightmare.”


“Making a Scene in the American Heartland” by Jonathan Wright and Dawson Barrett


“Punk rock in a preeminently average town.”