New Stories from the South 1992: The Year's Best

Shannon Ravenel, Author, Shannon Ravenel, Editor Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $10.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-56512-011-2
Ravenel once again seeks out eccentricity in this annual's seventh volume. Alison Baker writes about Siamese twins who join a first-grade class; Nanci Kincaid's story involves a woman who sympathizes with other people to the extent that she sees herself through their eyes and refuses to keep a mirror in the house; Padgett Powell describes the romance between an old woman who delights in setting her swamp on fire and the 300-pound sheriff who stops by to cheek on it. Although the collection is uneven, the finest stories permit readers to understand a character's bizarre motivations, as in Susan Perabo's tale about a woman who shows her dog pictures of dead people from Life magazine in an attempt to explain why the infant's room is empty. Perhaps the most eccentric elements-and the most Southern-are the distorted visions of God that figure heavily into many stories: This is the southern Bible Belt, where people talk about God the way they talk about the weather, the narrator muses in Mary Ward Brown's story about a young widow whose exlover hounds her to join his offbeat church. New this year are author bios and photos, plus the writers' rather superfluous comments on their own stories. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/13/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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