NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH by Shannon Ravenel

NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH

The Year's Best, 1996
edited by
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The second decade of this fine series begins with a real coup- -a story by the King of Southern culture himself: no, not Elvis, but William Faulkner, a previously unpublished story rediscovered by the editor of The Oxford American, itself a bright new addition to the literary scene down home. Ravenel continues to scour magazines big and small for the best by and about the South. It's no great shame that most of her selections pale besides the Master. And Faulkner's ``Rose of Lebanon'' definitely belongs in his canon: A true daughter of the Confederacy--no flighty southern belle--reenacts her vulgar taunts to Yankee marauders years later at a sedate Memphis dinner party. Diminished in comparison are a number of light pieces: J.D. Dolan's ``Mood Music,'' a tale of sunburns and sexual tension in a nuclear family; David Gilbert's ``Cool Moss,'' a satiric look at coal- walking and the failure of positive thinking; and Tim Gautreaux's ``Died and Gone to Vegas,'' a compendium of tall-tales told by Louisiana oil workers. Tom Paine's ``General Markham's Last Stand,'' in which a retiring general humiliates himself in public, is simply unconvincing, but some familiar voices sound loud and strong here. Lee Smith's pointed tale of a retirement home's writing group, ``The Happy Memories Club,'' goes straight to the heart of the fictive enterprise itself. Jill McCorkle's ``Paradise,'' with its contemporary Eve, a southern Baptist girl, and her boyfriend, Adam, a Jewish northerner, gives opportunity for her vintage low humor, with its droll portrait of middle-class vulgarity. Moira Crone's ``Gauguin'' is a fractured advertisement for quirky Louisiana. Particularly haunting are Robert Olen Butler's `` Twilight Zone''-ish fable about a husband reincarnated as a parrot in his wife's home; Ellen Douglas's old-timey account of an old man's death; and Annette Sanford's portrait of a slightly retarded girl who's smarter than her relatives realize. An estimable volume in an estimable--and getting on toward the venerable--series.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1996
ISBN: 1-56512-155-4
Page count: 286pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996




MORE BY SHANNON RAVENEL

FictionTHE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1990 by Shannon Ravenel
by Shannon Ravenel
FictionTHE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1989 by Margaret Atwood
by Margaret Atwood
FictionTHE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 1988 by Mark Helprin
by Mark Helprin