cover image Black Cloud, White Cloud

Black Cloud, White Cloud

Ellen Douglas. University Press of Mississippi, $30 (233pp) ISBN 978-0-87805-393-3

Included in this new edition of an important Southern writer's short fiction originally published in 1963 (and long out of print) are powerful illustrations by a young Southern artist. In these four stories, Douglas ( Can't Quit You Baby ) reintroduces some of the characters from in her award-winning first novel, A Family's Affairs . In their Mississippi-bounded, small-town lives, the big issues of race and relationships arise in varied and subtle forms. The House on the Bluff , home to the well-off Bairds, is controlled by their housekeeper, Tete, a remarkable and mysterious black woman whose legacy to a young child is summed up in the observation, ``A child so seldom senses justice in a grown person that he cannot forget it.'' This long story of a family's gentle evolution through the generations in an antebellum house is a masterpiece that subtly indicates the burden of relationships in families, between blacks and whites, in a shifting milieu. The remaining, shorter stories, ``Jessie,'' ``I Just Love Carrie Lee'' and ``Hold On,'' are equally rewarding, understated yet vibrant with compassion and understanding. (June)