Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2010
: The real excitement of a well-done fireworks production comes not so much from a single boom and flash--anybody can make a big noise--but from the way the explosions pile up on each other, building and surprising and orchestrated to awe. And so it is with a Barry Hannah story. Every sentence--every
sentence, he didn't take breathers--is packed full of explosives and then set to detonate, one after the other. What makes them so spectacular? There's the volatile mix of earthy slang and formal diction, and the uncanny rhythm of speech and thought, each note hit exactly. But most of all they are saturated with desire. Everyone in Hannah's stories wants, wants desperately, and they do so at such a pitch that you can understand why Hannah, a fine novelist too, was better known for his intense shorter tales, the best of which are collected for the first time, following his untimely death last March, in Long, Last, Happy
. Rural murderers and fishermen and lovers, bitter and/or callow dilettantes, soldiers in many wars, sorrowful husbands and wrathful wives: Hannah channels them all, under a philosophy confessed to by one of his own narrators, "I have license to exaggerate, as I have just done, but many would be horrified to know how little." --Tom Nissley
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This posthumous collection includes four new stories and shows why Hannah's regarded as one of the best. Hannah's wit is caustic, shot through with social commentary and gleefully interspersed with bursts of slapstick comedy. One of his best-known early stories, "Mother Rooney Unscrolls the Hurt," still holds up more than 30 years later, with the landlady in her dilapidated house, lying crumpled at the bottom of the stairs. Hannah easily links themes, characters, and places--particularly his longtime home of Oxford, Miss., and its flagship school, Ole Miss--without drawing unnecessary attention to connections. The new stories--"Fire Water," "Sick Soldier at Your Door," "Lastward, Deputy James," and "Out-tell the Teller"--can be read as a set of interlocking narratives, each presenting a different angle on a series of arson attacks on small churches. The subject matter may be serious, but Hannah never abandons his sly grin--just as he was able to shift, mid-story, between boyhood hijinks and the looming threat of Vietnam in "Testimony of Pilot." This collection reminds that Hannah, even in death, will always be "on the black and chrome Triumph, riding right into your face." (Dec.) (c)
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