cover image New Stories from the South 2010: The Year's Best

New Stories from the South 2010: The Year's Best

Edited by Amy Hempel with Kathy Pories, Algonquin, $14.95 paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-56512-986-3

The 25 stories in this 25th annual anthology lean more toward "menace" than outright attack, and though it's true that some of the stories lack a certain bite, this year's outing is a solid addition to a worthy institution. In "Housewarming," Kevin Wilson charts a father's pain as he removes a drowned deer from his son's pond and tries to flush from the young man's life an abiding anger that swamps them both. In Rick Bass's "Fish Story" a man remembers the night he kept a massive catfish watered; the croaking thing refused to die, even as it was flayed. Toddlers, reptiles, parents, and predators alike stalk one another, but it's not animals who lurk in one of the best stories—Tim Gautreaux's "Idols"—it's the ghost of Flannery O'Connor. As Gautreaux says in the author's comments, he wanted to find out if two of her "famous characters could be ‘continued,' so to speak." They can if they're carried by Gautreaux, whose story reaffirms William Faulkner's assertion, and the series's preoccupation: "The past is never dead. It's not even past." (Aug.)