cover image New Stories from the South 1994: The Year's Best

New Stories from the South 1994: The Year's Best

Shannon Ravenel, Author, Shannon Ravenel, Editor Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $10.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-56512-088-4

Ravenel, Best American Short Stories editor throughout the '80s, has done a wonderful job of selecting the stories for this, the ninth in the New Stories series. Spotlighting such literary luminaries as Barry Hannah, Frederick Barthelme, Nanci Kincaid, Ethan Canin and Reynolds Price, Ravenel also recognizes upcoming talents Melanie Sumner and George Singleton, whose stories hold up well among such weighty company. Voice varies greatly between Hannah's drugged-out lyricism in ``Nicodemus Bluff'' and Nancy Krusoe's staccato prose in ``Landscape and Dream.'' That these 16 stories are more about living anywhere than particularly down South is best evidenced in Sumner's ``My Other Life,'' in which a Tennessee belle finds herself, via the Peace Corps, in Muslim Africa. The universal themes on which these stories touch create a collection greater than the sum of its parts. ``That there is the supernatural,'' a woman tells her farmer husband near the end of Leon Rooke's ``The Heart Must from Its Breaking.'' The supernatural often appears in these stories as the mysterious workings of a higher being, though the stories themselves appeal to a different holy tradition-that of Faulkner and O'Connor. An appendix of magazines and an index of previous volumes serve as reference resources. (Oct.)