cover image Family Reunion and Other Stories

Family Reunion and Other Stories

Berry Fleming. Permanent Press (NY), $22 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-877946-08-0

The title novella, written in 1984 when the late Fleming was 85, displays his usual affectionate twitting of Southern mores. Narrator Bob Otis, owner of a small press that publishes only his novels, tells of making hasty funeral arrangements for a member of the ``centrifugal family'' of Telfair (also Taillefer, Taliaferro and Tolliver). Too polite to tell the deceased's son that he's never heard of that branch of the family, Otis, who's also trying to get his new book printed and, in late middle age, may be trying to bed young printing rep Becky, enlists matriarchal Cousin Doshia. Telfair clan leader Uncle Brownell must step lively to stop the burial of a black West Indian Tolliver in the family plot and arranges air passage for the corpse. Fleming's elliptical writing is as stylish, charming and sharp as ever, and some familiar characters appear, notably old Uncle Nolan ( Captain Bennett's Folly ) who has dream arguments with ``the Voice,'' who offers him another 500 years. ``Afternoon in the Country,'' spare cousin to ``Turn of the Screw,'' is the best story; ``War Memorial'' and ``Beach Party'' are competent sketches and ``Happy New Year, Mr. Ganaway'' is bargaining-with-death slapstick with a little bite. (Oct.)