Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short free-form poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of a fictional small town of Spoon River, named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' home town. The aim of the poems is to demystify the rural, small town American life. The collection includes two hundred and twelve separate characters, all providing two-hundred forty-four accounts of their lives and losses. The poems were originally published in the magazine Reedy's Mirror. Each following poem is an epitaph of a dead citizen, delivered by the dead themselves. They speak about the sorts of things one might expect: some recite their histories and turning points, others make observations of life from the outside, and petty ones complain of the treatment of their graves, while few tell how they really died. Speaking without reason to lie or fear the consequences, they construct a picture of life in their town that is shorn of façades. The interplay of various villagers - e.g. a bright and successful man crediting his parents for all he's accomplished, and an old woman weeping because he is secretly her illegitimate child - forms a gripping, if not pretty, whole. The subject of afterlife receives only the occasional brief mention, and even those seem to be contradictory. Other local legends assert that Masters' fictional portrayal of local residents, often in unflattering light, created a lot of embarrassment and aggravation in his hometown. This is offered as an explanation for why he chose not to settle down in Lewistown or Petersburg. Spoon River Anthology was originally submitted as a couple of poems to Reedy's Mirror in 1914, and then first published in 1915 with a total of two-hundred and nine poems. Masters added thirty-five new poems in the 1916 addition, expanding on new characters with connections to some of the originals.