STORIES FROM THE BLUE MOON CAF: An Anthology of Southern Writers
Of the 30 short stories featured in this quixotic and eclectic collection, the most notable are perhaps the refreshing, well-chosen selections by lesser-known voices of the New South. Still, an impressive lineup of brand-name authors—including Rick Bragg, Pat Conroy, William Gay, W.E.B. Griffin, Winston Groom, Melinda Haynes, Silas House, Brad Watson and Steve Yarbrough—round out the mix. The common bond and creative wellspring of the collection is the annual gathering of authors called Southern Writers Reading, held the weekend before Thanksgiving in the artsy town of Fairhope, Ala. Local bookstore (Over the Transom) owner Sonny Brewer is the originator and driving force behind the loosely organized writers conference, and editor of the anthology. The addition of local luminaries W.E.B. Griffin and Winston Groom, and the inclusion of other locals C. Terry Cline Jr. and Judith Richards, was a natural extension of the idea. As the project took shape, like a snowball rolling downhill, it picked up other deserving writers in its path. If the stories (mostly previously unpublished) have anything in common, it is their brevity. But in the space of a few pages each, they range widely in setting and subject matter: from Griffin's "Going Back to the Bridge in Berlin," about an ex-serviceman's return to his post-WWII posting, to Richard Shackelford's "From Tucson to Tucumari, from Hatchabee to Tonopah," about an old trucker's death. The true accomplishment of this freespirited venture is the discovery of such gifted voices as Jennifer Paddock and local bookstore clerk Jim Gilbert. This collection may well become a yearly objet d'art. (Aug. 19)
Forecast:The Best of the Oxford American (Forecasts, July 15), published in the same month as Stories from the Blue Moon Café, has the edge in name recognition, but connoisseurs of Southern writing in search of something new may want to pick up this upstart anthology.