On October 19, Bridge Eight Press will host a release party for its new anthology, 15 Views of Jacksonville: Short Stories From a Bold City. The new volume is not only the first book from the boutique publisher, it’s the first ever project of its kind: there have been other books about the city, but 15 Views marks the first time authors have come together to create a collection of stories about Jacksonville.

“Jacksonville has always had a legacy of great writers, but in the past, I feel they’ve been siloed into the different parts of the city,” said Bridge Eight founder Jared Rypkema. Whereas Jacksonville’s previous literary output has chiefly come from individual efforts, “this book collects all these writers together in one place. It’s something new.”

The book is “a literary portrait of the city,” says Rypkema. “We’re hoping to show people who live here, or people who travel here, parts of the city they haven’t seen.” To that end, the publishers recruited a group of writers, all current or former Jacksonville residents, and tasked them each with telling a story set in a different part of town. The result is fifteen new stories and an essay depicting a broad spectrum of Jacksonville life by authors including Sohrab Homi Fracis, Laura Lee Smith, Mark Ari, Nan Kavanaugh, Tim Gilmore, and others, edited by Bridge Eight veteran Caleb Michael Sarvis.

Tim Gilmore

“Jax is a much stranger city than most of its residents realize,” said 15 Views contributor Tim Gilmore, owner of Jax Psycho Geo and author of 16 books. “I think 15 Views will demonstrate that fact and remind readers that fiction can be a powerful vehicle for the truth.”

“This book captures the psyche of this city with a diverse chorus of voices and characters,” said contributor Nan Kavanaugh, a writer and communications director for MOCA Jacksonville. She hopes the anthology will “provide the reader an authentic understanding of what makes this city unique while touching on the universal human condition.”

The book marks Jacksonville’s debut in the 15 Views series, a collection of anthologies centered on Florida cities; previous entries have covered Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. It’s also a major new step for Bridge Eight, which has published seven issues of its literary magazine since 2014. 15 Views of Jacksonville was funded via a Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $9,000 from 195 backers. Rypkema sees this level of support as a great sign for Jacksonville’s literary culture. “The fact that this many people wanted to put money behind a literary project really says something… the city said, ‘we really want this.’”

Bridge Eight will celebrate the launch of 15 Views of Jacksonville with a release party on October 19 at Manifest Distilling in Downtown Jacksonville. The event will feature book readings by the authors and Jacksonville merchandise for sale. RSVP on Facebook.

Article by Bill Delaney. Contact Bill at wdelaney@moderncities.com.