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New Stories from the South 2004: The Year's Best Paperback – January 5, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like last year's edition, the 19th installment of this annual showcase of Southern short fiction is exciting but uneven. The collection gets off to a fine start with Pulitzer winner Edward P. Jones (in his affecting "A Rich Man," a man seeking lost youth gets a lot more than he bargained for) and Chris Offutt (the simple but touching "Second Hand," in which a woman pawns her prized boots for a chance to make a third-grader happy). But while Rick Bass's "Pagans" unfolds as an affecting, rich evocation of young love, it's meandering and overwritten. Though certainly not filled with humor, this year's collection—with offerings like George Singleton's "Raise Children Here," Brock Clarke's "The Lolita School" and Drew Perry's "Love Is Gnats Today"—reflects a less somber view than the 2003 edition. Still, Silas House's "Coal Smoke" and Michael Knight's "Feeling Lucky" are bleak, and Ann Pancake's "Dog Song" is both haunting and gruesome. Jill McCorkle's "Intervention," the tale of a woman's complicated devotion to her alcoholic husband, shines. Breast fixation, race, pre–World War I sex education, the shadow of death, a nasty parrot, reconciliation and an iconoclastic docent are subjects explored by rising stars, including Starkey Flythe Jr., Tayari Jones, K.A. Longstreet, Annette Sanford, Bret Anthony Johnston and R.T. Smith. Reflections on the stories by the authors themselves add another layer of pleasure to this volume.
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From Booklist

There's something for everyone in the nineteenth publication of this noteworthy annual anthology, with its mix of lesser- and better-known authors. Among the latter, Edward P. Jones returns a character from an earlier story who brings woe upon an aging widower in "A Rich Man," and Jill McCorkle illuminates an indestructible marriage bond in "Intervention." Bygone Virginia is evoked in "The Judgement of Paris" by K. A. Longstreet, with a pharmacist's son supplying fellow cadets with condoms at VMI in 1912, and in "Docent" by R. T. Smith, with a dowager putting her own spin on the past for Washington and Lee University visitors. Farther south, things get wackier. In George Singleton's "Raise Children Here," a young man, writing for a Fodor guide of places to avoid completely, gets an unexpected reception in Claxton, Georgia, fruitcake capital of the world. Authors' endnotes about their inspirations for these 18 stories enrich the volume. Michele Leber
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Product Details

  • Series: New Stories from the South (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565124324
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565124325
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,095,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Enthusiastically recommended reading, New Stories From The South: 2004 is knowledgeably compiled and expertly edited by Shannon Ravenel and a compilation of the year's eighteen best short stories. Ravenel (series editor of "The Best American Short Stories" for fourteen years and who inaugurated the "New Stories from the South" series in 1986) is uniquely qualified to assemble the best of southern storytelling and storytellers, thereby making them accessible to those who enjoy great literature throughout the country. From Edward P. Jones' A Rich Man, Ingrid Hill's Valor, to Brock Clarke's The Lolita School, to Bret Anthony Johnston's The Widow, these are true gems reflecting the phenomena of love in all its diverse variations and generations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Todd Justman VINE VOICE on April 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really like short story anthologies, and this one was no exception. As long as you caveat your reading with the obvious notion that some of the stories you just won't like, you'll be fine. Unlike reading a complete novel to find yourself unhappy at the end, with this format you're not really out anything. And since all the stories offer something to the reader, you don't have too much downside.

These stories may come from the South, but that is a loosely-shared quality at best. I didn't find much of anything "Southern" in several of the offerings, but perhaps my view is skewed.

Let me recommend specific "don't miss" short stories:

-George Singleton's "Raise Children Here" is a laugh-out-loud hoot. Best one in the book by FAR. Just a pleasure to read.

-Drew Perry's "Love Is Gnats Today" is a fun and heartfelt read. This one gives you a new perspective on a certain type of person that you may not think much of on the surface.

Jill McCorkle's "Intervention" is another one that gives you a new perspective on a situation where you might be very apt to jump to a conclusion. Since so much of our lives are oriented on the need to make quick decisions, I like a story that teaches the need to hold back on snap judgements and to dig a little for the truth.

I did skip "Pagans" based on the formal book review, and the fact that it really did drag on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Vasoli on July 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I so much enjoyed the short stories written by Southern authors. There is something inherent in the Southern psyche that can tell a story!!
Excellent reading, you can enjoy it all at one time or read one story at a time. You won't be disappointed!
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