High Lonesome

Overview

These stories explore lost moments in time with intensity, emotion, and an eye to the past. In "Uncle High Lonesome," a young man recalls his Uncle Peter, whose even temper was marred only by his drinking binges, which would unleash moments of rage hinting at his much deeper distress. Fishing is transformed into a life-altering, almost mystical event in " A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis," when a huge fish caught on a line threatens to pull a young boy, and his entire world with him, underwater and out to sea. ...
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High Lonesome

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Overview

These stories explore lost moments in time with intensity, emotion, and an eye to the past. In "Uncle High Lonesome," a young man recalls his Uncle Peter, whose even temper was marred only by his drinking binges, which would unleash moments of rage hinting at his much deeper distress. Fishing is transformed into a life-altering, almost mystical event in " A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis," when a huge fish caught on a line threatens to pull a young boy, and his entire world with him, underwater and out to sea. And in "Snerd and Niggero," a deep friendship between two men is inspired by the loss of a woman they both love - a woman who was mistress to one and wife to the other. Viewed through memory and time's distance, Hannah's characters are brightly illuminated figures from a lost time, whose lives - occasionally bleak - are still uncommonly true. High Lonesome is a darkly comic, fiercely tragic, and always strikingly original odyssey into American life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though set mostly in the Mississippi of the recent past, these 13 unsettling, masterfully crafted fictions bring to mind not only the work of great Southern short-story writers like Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers but, in their brutal candor and tragic masculinity, also echo voices as diverse as those of the New Englander Raymond Carver and the urbanite Charles Bukowski. Exploring themes of contorted sexuality, voyeurism, guilt, prejudice, identity, familial dysfunction, death, aging, improbable friendship, alcoholism, creativity and self-destruction, Hannah (Bats Out of Hell) evokes a dolorous and sometimes darkly comic South peopled by desperate losers, weathered survivors and unexpected innocents. Robert Snerd and Cornelius Niggero become fast friends on the death of Niggero's wife, a woman both were in loveand involvedwith. In "The Agony of T. Bandini," Tiger Bandini and the "lean black man" known only as Cruthers form a mysterious, lasting bond in the police drunk tank. "Drum" Dummond, a middle-aged, Christian dilettante in Paul Smith's writing class, befriends and encourages his troubled teacher but ultimately takes his own life ("Drummer Down)." In the briefest tale here, "A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis," a young boy out fishing hooks onto a sea monster. "It took place in no more than half a minute, I'd guess, but it had the lengthy rapture and terror of a whole tale." Just so, in these stories Hannah evokes an astonishing depth and range of emotion, as he economically blends notes of wistfulness and nostalgia into the dark, complex moods of his resonant, often disturbing tales. (Oct.)
Library Journal
All of Hannah's previous story collections and novels have narrated in Gothic style the tragic decadence of the landscape of the Southern mind and culture. In this newest collection, Hannah writes in a staccato minimalism that captures the cultural marginality and grotesqueness of characters coping with the loss of their worlds, and, sometimes, their minds. For example, in the opening story, "Get Some Young," the narrator Tuck and his wife are drawn sexually and spiritually to Swanly, a golden youth who looks like a "Dutch angel." While Swanly represents the couple's loss of youthful longing, their sexual liaison heals briefly their loss but exacts a far greater loss from Swanly. Hannah's lonesome grotesques are the relatives of the spiritually and physically maimed inhabitants of Harry Crews's early novels like "This Thing Don't Lead to Heaven." Hannah delivers these stories in brilliant language that shines upon the dark corners of the minds of his characters. Highly recommended.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen vivid, scabrous, and noisy stories from the Mississippi romantic whose earlier volumes (Airships, 1978; Bats Out of Hell, 1993) contained most of the essentials, and even some of the particulars, of the more recent pieces gathered here.

The characters in Hannah's rowdy tales are almost always the same: Eccentric misfits or disaffected intellectuals who are afflicted by love and lust the way Flannery O'Connor's people are obsessed with God and religion. Booze and regrets are key elements in this latest collection, which differs from Hannah's previous work only in its nagging emphasis on midlife crisis. Even in the slightest stories (e.g., "The Ice Storm" and "Ned Maxy, He Watching You"), the sense of wasted opportunity and of a persistent longing for a better life are almost always preternaturally strong. We seem to be hearing, with minimal narrative variations, the ongoing confession of a single self- castigating protagonist. The best tales include "Get Some Young," in which a moody Korean War vet and his moodier wife are transformed by their encounter with a handsome young boy; "Carriba," about a former journalist who tries to bring peace to a family traumatized by mass murders; and the affecting "Drummer Down," which portrays a would-be-writer who killed himself and vibrates thereafter in the memory of his more "successful" friend. Most memorable of all is "Uncle High Lonesome," the first-person story of a boy who simultaneously idolizes and despises the title character, a romantic hunter and boorish racist. It takes off onto an exhilarating higher level with the narrator's revelation that his uncle once murdered a man, and that the murder and its attendant guilt has become a kind of inheritance passed down through the generations.

When Hannah's stories are really about something—other than the omnipresent comic-depressive mood that has long dominated his fiction—they can get under your skin and haunt you. Only fitfully, however, are such sparks struck here.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802135322
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,429,985
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.27 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

Get Some Young 1
A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis 43
Carriba 53
Snerd and Niggero 79
Ned Maxy, He Watching You 91
Through Sunset into the Raccoon Night 97
The Agony of T. Bandini 125
Taste Like a Sword 137
Repulsed 151
Two Gone Over 167
The Ice Storm 185
Drummer Down 193
Uncle High Lonesome 211
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