The Manufactured History of Indianapolis

We Are City | 116 pages | purchase

The Manufactured History of Indianapolis reminds readers that histories are not always just made. Sometimes they are made up. Folklore, faded memories, and misunderstandings are an important part of the way people understand a place and its past. Irrational beliefs and fabricated memories feel undeniably real to the person who holds them. In turn, they become part of the reality of how that person experiences the world. The molded memories that Reeves incorporates into his manufactured history prompt readers to interrogate—and perhaps develop—their own potentially apocryphal beliefs about the history of Indianapolis. In this book, Reeves invites readers to develop memories of that which remains unseen.”

—Laura Holzman

A man believes his only chance at justice is taking a hostage and marching him through the streets. An idealistic dancer packs the theater yet she is cast out by the mayor. A sprawling asylum on the west side houses the broken and wounded while a global corporation on the other side of town modifies our brain chemistry and tinkers with the size of cows. Meanwhile an architect searches for ghosts in the basement of a rowdy bar that was once a convent. And last night the police arrested a homeless man when he asked a woman for a quarter to catch the bus. These events bleed into the subconscious of a city, even if we do not see them when looking up at the columns and gargoyles that commemorate bloody moments as if they happened in a distant land.

The Manufactured History of Indianapolis blends historical fact, urban legends, and speculative fiction into a world of haunted houses, kidnappers, peacemakers, and old-timers like Troublemaker and Carly Dee. This is a wide-angle portrait of what might be the most American city.

Produced as part of a four-week writer’s residency in Indianapolis in partnership with We Are City, the Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University, and Indiana University Center for Art + Design. Inspired by the methodology of Surrealism and the madness of Dada, the Bureau of Manufactured History was a collaboration between the composer Oliver Blank and writer James A. Reeves that explored the unconscious content of cities.

Excerpts