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New Stories from the South #06: New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 2006by Allan Gurganus
Synopses & Reviews
For this year's volume, acclaimed writer ZZ Packer chooses some of the youngest and freshest voices on the literary horizon to accompany a host of well-established writers. And the stories they write tell of the South as it is now, the one not seen in the romanticized Southern fiction, but one where life is raw and risky. Here you'll find young girls encountering their first taste of corrupt adult world, a boy meeting his father for the first time, an uncle dealing with a nephew who's turned to meth. But this is still the South, and there is an alligator to be dealt with, a hurricane churning offshore, and the belief that a day at the beach can cure all.
As ZZ packer says in her introduction, "the sit-ins, the marches, the hope of better days…began in the South. Every other region can jam its fingers in its ears and shake its head and tunelessly chant 'Not in My Backyard,' but not so in the South. The South is the backyard. And as backward as we've been portrayed—or as backward as we've sometimes portrayed ourselves, slipping behind a curtain of innocent and naïve agrarianism, rural somnolence, and sleepy everlasting vowels—the truth is that every awful and beautiful thing that has happened in America happened in the South first." You'll feel the pulse of the South coursing through every one of her selections.
"In his introduction, novelist Gurganus (Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All) questions 'the use of fiction' and suggests that the medium's duty is to do more than merely distract readers from tenuous times. That Gurganus even asks that question at all marks a turning point in the 21-year history of one of the country's most-enduring and highly respected annual short-story anthologies. Heretofore edited by Shannon Ravenel, the series now welcomes a guest editor for each volume. That delicate task falls first to Gurganus, who answers his own question regarding the use of fiction by choosing 20 mostly entertaining stories from both seasoned writers and newcomers. Here are authentic tales of a celebrity divorcée with a plumbing problem (Tony Earley's 'Yard Art') and a white woman stuck in an all-black hospital (Nanci Kincaid's 'The Currency of Love'). Gurganus also indulges in revisionist history (Ben Fountain's 'Brief Encounters with Che Guevara'), The Onion-style news accounts (Chris Bachelder's 'Blue Knights Bounced from CVD Tourney') and a narrative by a rattlesnake rancher (R.T. Smith's 'Tastes Like Chicken'). But the best stories (Kevin Wilson's 'Tunneling to the Center of the Earth,' William Harrison's 'Money Whipped') are the ones in which the protagonists attempt to improve their own little place in the world. Photographs of each author, brief bios and post-story commentary provide added context." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This year, acclaimed short-story writer ZZ Packer chooses twenty distinctive stories representing the great number of voices and narratives coming out of the South. Some of the youngest and freshest talents on the literary horizon—Bret Anthony Johnston, Kevin Brockmeier, Holly Goddard Jones—accompany well-known Southern stalwarts, including Pinckney Benedict, Clyde Edgerton, and Ron Rash. Their stories tell of life as it is now, a life not seen in romanticized Southern fiction, one where existence—both urban and rural—is as raw and risky as it is alluring. The energy of this collection courses through every one of Packer's edgy, funny, and gritty selections.
Twenty stories ranging from low-down, high-octane farce to dark, erotic suspenses showcase seasoned writers like Tony Earley, Wendell Berry, and George Singleton with gifted newcomers, including Keith Lee Morris, Erin Brooks Worley, and J.D. Chapman.
About the Author
Allan Gurganuss first novel, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into twelve languages. His novel White People was the winner of the Los Angeles Book Prize and was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, and his short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the Paris Review and has been anthologized in the The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Short Stories, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, and New Stories from the South. He is a 2006 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow.
Z.Z. Packer's first collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and a New York Times Notable Book, and was selected by John Updike for the Today Show Book Club. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction, a Whiting Writers' Award, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. Packer is on the faculty of California College of the Arts, and her stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and New Stories from the South.
Kathy Pories earned her B.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught in the English Department at UNC and at Elon University before joining Algonquin in 1995. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Table of Contents
Introduction by ZZ Packer
Holly Goddard Jones, Theory of Realty
Pinckney Benedict, Bridge of Sighs
Amina Gautier, The Ease of Living
Kevin Moffett, First Marriage
Robert Drummond, The Unnecessary Man
Stephanie Soileau, So This Is Permanence
Clyde Edgerton, The Great Speckled Bird
Ron Rash, Back of Beyond
Merritt Tierce, Suck It
R.T. Smith, Wretch Like Me
Karen E. Bender, Candidate
David James Poissant, Lizard Man
Daniel Wallace, The Girls
Jim Tomlinson, First Husband, First Wife
Bret Anthony Johnston, Republican
Mary Miller, Leak
Charlie Smith, Albemarle
Jennifer Moses, Child of God
Stephanie Dickinson, Lucky Seven & Dalloway
Kevin Brockmeier, Andrea Is Changing Her Name
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