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It Wasn't All Dancing and Other Stories (Deep South Books) Paperback – December 4, 2002


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It Wasn't All Dancing and Other Stories (Deep South Books) + Tongues of Flame (Deep South Books) + Fanning the Spark: A Memoir
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Product Details

  • Series: Deep South Books
  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: University Alabama Press; 1st Edition edition (December 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817350071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817350079
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A kind of old-fashioned South its quiet dramas of love, death, religion and race relations lies at the heart of Brown's competent second collection (after Tongues of Flame). "I don't guess you could say `yes, ma'am,' could you?" aging belle Rose Merriweather asks her black nurse in the first of 11 stories. "Would that set back the whole Movement?" Etta resists (though she does allow Rose to call her Henrietta) and their growing friendship is a delicate reminder of the passage of time that has changed the status of them both. Social and emotional transitions act as the crux of several other stories, as well. In "A Meeting on the Road," a white lawyer laments his exclusion from the politics of a town whose population has become increasingly black while recalling his childhood friendship with one of the men who has just fired him from the County Commission a man whose mother was the lawyer's "mammy." In "Once in a Lifetime," waitress and divorce Edythe embarks on a new love at the moment her adolescent daughter, Denise, begins to rebel; Edythe's hopes for her daughter's future and her own are dashed when Denise becomes pregnant. But "even disgrace wears thin, wears out," Edythe realizes, "and begins to fade like glory." Brown's world is one of small towns in which visitors are welcomed with homemade poundcake and coffee, God is discussed as often as the weather and rumors function as essential conversational currency. Though her collection is not striking, it is an effective portrait of a time and a place in which broad change was felt through small, personal experiences, was seen the way a face might be when reflected in a distant mirror.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Brown, an award-winning short story author whose last collection, Tongues of Flame, was published in 1986, here shows that the past 16 years have been well worth the wait. These delicate and finely wrought stories examine the many strata of white southern culture: customs, mores, and changing relationships with the surrounding African American population. In one, an elderly southern belle must confess her less than stellar performance as a mother to the young black nurse who now cares for her. In another, Brown details the near catastrophic effects the purchase of a new TV has on a struggling farmer's marriage. Her characters are pragmatic and recognizable, from the widow who regains her will to live by fending off the advances of a fundamentalist church group to the well-intentioned professor's wife who clumsily reaches out to her less fortunate neighbor. Brown's rueful and contemplative stories quietly gain momentum so that their conclusion leaves the reader with an unexpected emotional wallop. This collection will appeal to fans of southern literature. Brendan Dowling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JD Cetola VINE VOICE on February 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Mary Ward Brown's second collection of stories is a terrific read. These 11 stories (ten set in Alabama, one in Russia) are heartwarming, thought provoking, and very human (not to mention well written). They run the emotional gamut that can cover a lifetime and in each there's a sense that something more important than life itself is at stake (often this reminder comes in the form of death or thoughts about mortality).
The stories in this collection take up 142 pages (the longest is only 18 pages long) and for the most part stand alone (as opposed to being fragments of longer stories). These are essentially Southern stories told by a great Southern writer and there's not a dud in the mix.
"It Wasn't All Dancing" examines the relationship between an aged Southerner and her black nurse. As with many of the stories in this collection, the relationship (and its impact on the main characters) is the focus.
"Once in a Lifetime" is a love story on several levels--a mother's love for her young-adult daughter and her newly found love for the former high school hot shot.
"A New Life" is perhaps the weakest story in the batch and centers on an encounter between a recently widowed woman and a group of well-intentioned Christians who become interested in her fate.
"No Sound in the Night" is a moving story about a learning disabled adult-child and his love for his hardworking female boss.
"The Birthday Cake" is another story about deep friendships, love, choices, and consequences.
"Swing Low: A Memoir", perhaps the best story in this collection, is a moving account of the deep friendship that develops between an aged wealthy woman and one of her family's hired hands.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cameron Case on September 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoy this, with three stories still to go. So many of the works feel genuine and I am frequently left feeling both a connection with the stories/characters as well as an appreciation for the language and craft. I can't remember now what prompted my purchase, but I've bought her other short story collection as well. In fact, I plan to give fifteen copies of this as gifts this Christmas.
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By Diane Spann on October 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The item was received with no damage and on time. The church library will enjoy this title for a long time.
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It Wasn't All Dancing and Other Stories (Deep South Books)
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