Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Other Stories

( 6 )

Overview

"In an earlier life, McCrumb must have been a balladeer, singing of restless spirits, star-crossed lovers, and the consoling beauty of nature. . . . The overall effect is spellbinding."
--The Washington Post

Bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb is "a born storyteller" (Mary Higgins Clark) who astonishes readers and reviewers with the power and scope of her talent, prompting the San Diego Union-Tribune to declare: "There is no one quite like her among present-day writers. No one ...

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Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Other Stories

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Overview

"In an earlier life, McCrumb must have been a balladeer, singing of restless spirits, star-crossed lovers, and the consoling beauty of nature. . . . The overall effect is spellbinding."
--The Washington Post

Bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb is "a born storyteller" (Mary Higgins Clark) who astonishes readers and reviewers with the power and scope of her talent, prompting the San Diego Union-Tribune to declare: "There is no one quite like her among present-day writers. No one better, either."

Foggy Mountain Breakdown, the first-ever collection of Sharyn McCrumb's short fiction, is a literary quilting of old and new, humorous and heartfelt, offering award-winning works--and two stories never before published, contrasting mountain childhoods past and present.

Chilling tales of suspense alternate with evocative character portraits and compelling narratives that embrace the southern Appalachian locales and themes of McCrumb's acclaimed Ballad Novels. Within this cornucopia of two dozen stories, Old Rattler, a mountain healer, skirmishes with a serial killer . . . Princess Di investigates long-kept secrets within the House of Windsor . . . A reincarnated murder victim seeks delicious revenge . . . And while honeymooning in the bridegroom's ancestral hilltop homeplace, two newlyweds harbor second thoughts.

The author's perfect-pitch ear for dialogue and ability to illuminate the dark side of human nature merge with her brilliant artistry to make Foggy Mountain Breakdown a virtuoso collection for devotees of Sharyn McCrumb--and for the legion of new readers who will find themselves caught under her spell.  

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"I grew up seeing the world as an exciting place," writes popular mystery writer McCrumb (If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him) in the introduction to her first short story collection. "The quiet tales of suburban angst so popular in modern fiction are Martian to me." It shows in these 25 tales, most set either in the Appalachia familiar to her fans or in her mother's "flatland South"; the title story is a portrait of her father's spartan childhood in rural Tennessee. "Love on First Bounce,'' written when McCrumb was in high school, introduces feisty Elizabeth MacPherson, heroine of eight later novels. Elizabeth is reading Dorothy Parker when we meet her; so, evidently, was McCrumb, who learns from Parker how to prod her stories along with pointed, dismissive phrases (of a boy-crazy friend: "She likes to build souls for mysterious strangers; I suppose getting to know someone would spoil the effect"). Fourteen novels haven't dulled McCrumb's wit. A few of these stories are bloodcurdling character studies; others are pervaded with loneliness and despair, and some draw on the legends of her Scottish ancestors. Ordinary housewives, a potential serial killer and isolated, poor mountain folk caught between or straddling cultures are grist for her imagination. Perhaps the best entries in the collectionamong them "Gentle Reader," which chronicles the short but profitable epistolary friendship between a popular Southern mystery writer and a mysterious fanadopt the politely satirical tone of her mysteries and are sure to please her readers (gentle and otherwise). (Sept.)
Library Journal
This is the first story collection from best-selling mystery writer McCrumb (e.g., She Walks These Hills and If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him, both LJ 5/1/95). With settings, tone, diction, and characters varying so widely, the 25 stories might have been written by 15 different writers. The one theme common to many of the stories is the desire forand usually accomplishment ofrevenge. Some stories, especially the first one, "Precious Jewel," are very fine, subtle, and moving. In others, however, a distancing irony prevents the reader's involvement with the characters. Some nicely convey a feeling for the rural South ("The Witness") and others the often-fraught relationship between men and women that is not limited to any region ("A Snare As Old as Solomon," "John Knox in Paradise"). The length of the stories does not allow much plot, and McCrumb sometimes attempts to compensate by winding up with an obvious metaphor or startling action to provide a punch. Buy where there is demand for her novels, which are clearly McCrumb's strong suit.Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll., Bronxville, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
Not many mystery writers use story collections as crossover books, but McCrumb's versatility in novels as different as Zombies of the Gene Pool (1992) and The Rosewood Casket (1996) makes the transition here seem inevitable. Though most of the 24 tales take some form easily recognizable to McCrumb's large following—the elegiac southern memoir, the astringently ironic anecdote, the updated folktale—the forms themselves are whimsically diverse. The common thread certainly isn't mystery: There's only one orthodox whodunit ("Happiness Is a Dead Poet," a delicious tale of literary politics) and one coming-of-age story featuring McCrumb's regular sleuth, Elizabeth MacPherson—but a sad sense of past oppression and injustice that, in the most characteristic stories ("The Luncheon," "Gentle Reader," "Not All Brides Are Beautiful"), curdles to civilized rage.

No particular standouts—McCrumb really needs the novel length to shine—but a revealing sketchbook of two dozen tales exploring the quicksilver border between mystery and magic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345414946
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 942,434
  • Product dimensions: 4.23 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharyn McCrumb
Sharyn McCrumb is an internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author whose work has been honored with all five of the major awards in crime fiction (Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Nero)--and two Best Appalachian Novel awards.  She is the creator of the Ballad Novel series, which began with If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy O. The most recent installment in her satirical mystery series featuring forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson is If I'd Killed Him When I Met  Him... .

Ms. McCrumb lives in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains.with her husband David and their two younger children, less than a hundred miles from the Smoky Mountain valley where her ancestors settled in 1790.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Precious Jewel 7
Telling the Bees 16
Love on First Bounce 27
John Knox in Paradise 38
Southern Comfort 48
A Snare as Old as Solomon 60
The Witness 67
Not All Brides Are Beautiful 77
A Shade of Difference 85
A Wee Doch and Doris 94
Remains to Be Seen 108
The Luncheon 116
A Predatory Woman 125
Happiness Is a Dead Poet 138
Nine Lives to Live 165
Gentle Reader 184
The Monster of Glamis 204
The Matchmaker 223
Old Rattler 237
Among My Souvenirs 254
Typewriter Man 267
Gerda's Sense of Snow 279
An Autumn Migration 299
Foggy Mountain Breakdown 314
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Interviews & Essays

My short stories tend to be more autobiographical than my novels. In this collection of almost every short story I have ever written, you will find little slices of my life, interspersed with that ever-present writer's question: What if? 'The Witness' and 'Precious Jewel' are Appalachian stories about my Tennessee grandfather, whose real name was Spencer Arrowood, namesake of the sheriff in my Ballad novels. 'Love at First Bounce' chronicles my adolescence in Greenville, North Carolina, and 'Gentle Reader' was inspired by correspondence with a faithful but mysterious reader of my novels. The mummy in 'Remains to Be Seen' really did reside on the top shelf of an Army surplus store in North Carolina, and everything about the royal family in 'The Monster of Glamis' is true, except the letter itself. I see short stories as shining stones that a writer pulls out of the depths of the subconscious. Like dreams, they tell us who we are and what we think.
—Sharyn McCrumb
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Nursery

    Nursery for the kits in Fogclan

    -Daggerstar

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Enthralling

    I loved these stories!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Greatly enjoyed

    Found this short stories to be very intertaining. Shared it with friends until finally i did not grt it back. Glad to find it on Nook

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2010

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