New Stories from the South 2008: The Year's Best

New Stories from the South 2008: The Year's Best

by ZZ Packer
     
 

This year, acclaimed short-story writer ZZ Packer chooses twenty distinctive stories representing the great number of voices and narratives coming out of the South. Some of the youngest and freshest talents on the literary horizon—Bret Anthony Johnston, Kevin Brockmeier, Holly Goddard Jones—accompany well-known Southern stalwarts, including Pinckney

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Overview

This year, acclaimed short-story writer ZZ Packer chooses twenty distinctive stories representing the great number of voices and narratives coming out of the South. Some of the youngest and freshest talents on the literary horizon—Bret Anthony Johnston, Kevin Brockmeier, Holly Goddard Jones—accompany well-known Southern stalwarts, including Pinckney Benedict, Clyde Edgerton, and Ron Rash. Their stories tell of life as it is now, a life not seen in romanticized Southern fiction, one where existence—both urban and rural—is as raw and risky as it is alluring. The energy of this collection courses through every one of Packer's edgy, funny, and gritty selections.

Editorial Reviews

The Charleston Post and Courier
“A formidable and diverse group of talent between the covers of a single volume.” —The Charleston Post and Courier
Pages Magazine
“The absolute best in short literary fiction.”—Pages magazine
the Oprah magazine O
"For 20 years, the spectacular Shannon Ravenel edited New Stories from the South, an annual collection of the best regional fiction. Extolling writers who favor risk-taking ('broadjumps into the great unknown'), Ravenel's successor, novelist Allan Gurganus (no mean risk-taker himself), presents stories as offbeat as Cary Holladay's chilling anatomy of racism, 'The Burning,' and Keith Lee Morris's eerie odyssey, 'Tired Heart.' Tradition with an edgy, modern twist."
O, the Oprah magazine
Miami Herald
"New Stories from the South is a literary anthology of the all-star variety."
Miami Herald
Atlanta Journal Constitution
"….One of the pleasures of reading "New Stories From the South," year after year, is discovering new talent, writers who have not yet published a book. . . . In "New Stories From the South 2007 —- The Year's Best," Edward P. Jones' story sense pays off."—Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Washington Post
"A suitably hospitable anthology, with an author comment, beneath his or her photo, at the end of each story." —Washington Post
USA Today
"This is an evocative selection of 18 stories for those sons and daughters of the South who yearn for fiction that eschews the moonlight-and-magnolias claptrap. In his excellent introduction, novelist Edward P. Jones (The Known World) explores his original discomfort at being asked to edit a book of Southern short stories since he is a native of Washington, D.C. He asks: How do we define the South today? Traditional big hitters are featured: Rick Bass, James Lee Burke, Alan Gurganus and Tim Gautreaux, whose "The Safe" is outstanding. But the real excitement is reading stories by up-and-coming writers, such as National Book Award finalist Joshua Ferris.”—USA Today
From the Publisher
"This is an evocative selection of 18 stories for those sons and daughters of the South who yearn for fiction that eschews the moonlight-and-magnolias claptrap. In his excellent introduction, novelist Edward P. Jones (The Known World) explores his original discomfort at being asked to edit a book of Southern short stories since he is a native of Washington, D.C. He asks: How do we define the South today? Traditional big hitters are featured: Rick Bass, James Lee Burke, Alan Gurganus and Tim Gautreaux, whose "The Safe" is outstanding. But the real excitement is reading stories by up-and-coming writers, such as National Book Award finalist Joshua Ferris.”—USA Today
Kirkus Reviews
According to the introduction by PEN/Faulkner finalist Packer (Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, 2003), these 20 stories from American magazines represent "southerners" rather than "Southerners," the dividing line between realism and (mythic) stereotype. Several stories straddle that line. R.T. Smith titles his lyrical but familiar anti-war Civil War story with an iconic Southernism, "Wretch Like Me." The title of Clyde Edgerton's "The Great Speckled Bird" is also blatantly iconic, and Edgerton acknowledges in his afterword-each writer describes his or her story's origins-that his tale, about a thief who takes a Bible salesman as his assistant in crime, is a purposeful tribute to Flannery O'Connor; alas, O'Connor did O'Connor better. The more successful stories are firmly contemporary. In many of the best, young protagonists struggle with the kind of troubled families found everywhere. The opener, Holly Goddard Jones's beautifully crafted "Theory of Reality," delves into a young girl's shifting awareness of sex and its danger. Ecological and emotional dangers present themselves to the young boy whose father kills infected cattle for a living in Pinckney Benedict's "Bridge of Sighs." In Mary Miller's "Leak" and Daniel Wallace's "The Girls," girls broaching adolescence live in awkward affection with their fathers. In Amina Gautier's "The Ease of Living," a teenager's mother sends him to stay with his ailing grandfather in Tallahassee to get off the New York streets. Social issues thread through the stories with mixed effect. "Child of God" by Jennifer Moses, about a former addict, leaves a do-gooder aftertaste, but in "First Husband, First Wife," Jim Tomlinson uses drug-dealing and legalbureaucracy to create a heart-wrenching love story. And in "Back of Beyond," about a pawnbroker named Parson who must visit his estranged brother's farm because Parson's nephew has stolen and pawned a shotgun to support his meth habit, Ron Rash turns what could be cliches of white-trash Southernness into a masterpiece on rectitude and family. A few clunkers, a few gems and many readable, very human slices of life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565126121
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
08/12/2008
Pages:
428
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 10.06(h) x 1.22(d)

Meet the Author

Allan Gurganus’s first novel, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into twelve languages. His novel White People was the winner of the Los Angeles Book Prize and was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, and his short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the Paris Review and has been anthologized in the The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Short Stories, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, and New Stories from the South. He is a 2006 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow.

Z.Z. Packer's first collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and a New York Times Notable Book, and was selected by John Updike for the Today Show Book Club. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction, a Whiting Writers' Award, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. Packer is on the faculty of California College of the Arts, and her stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and New Stories from the South.

Kathy Pories earned her B.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught in the English Department at UNC and at Elon University before joining Algonquin in 1995. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

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Brief Biography

Hometown:
Pacifica, California
Date of Birth:
January 12, 1973
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
Education:
B.A., Yale University, 1994; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1995; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1999
Website:
http://zzpacker.net/

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