Publishers WeeklyOf the 30 short stories featured in this quixotic and eclectic collection, the most notable are perhaps the refreshing, well-chosen selections by lesser-known voices of the New South. Still, an impressive lineup of brand-name authors including Rick Bragg, Pat Conroy, William Gay, W.E.B. Griffin, Winston Groom, Melinda Haynes, Silas House, Brad Watson and Steve Yarbrough round out the mix. The common bond and creative wellspring of the collection is the annual gathering of authors called Southern Writers Reading, held the weekend before Thanksgiving in the artsy town of Fairhope, Ala. Local bookstore (Over the Transom) owner Sonny Brewer is the originator and driving force behind the loosely organized writers conference, and editor of the anthology. The addition of local luminaries W.E.B. Griffin and Winston Groom, and the inclusion of other locals C. Terry Cline Jr. and Judith Richards, was a natural extension of the idea. As the project took shape, like a snowball rolling downhill, it picked up other deserving writers in its path. If the stories (mostly previously unpublished) have anything in common, it is their brevity. But in the space of a few pages each, they range widely in setting and subject matter: from Griffin's "Going Back to the Bridge in Berlin," about an ex-serviceman's return to his post-WWII posting, to Richard Shackelford's "From Tucson to Tucumari, from Hatchabee to Tonopah," about an old trucker's death. The true accomplishment of this freespirited venture is the discovery of such gifted voices as Jennifer Paddock and local bookstore clerk Jim Gilbert. This collection may well become a yearly objet d'art. (Aug. 19) Forecast: The Best of the Oxford American (Forecasts, July 15), published in the same month as Stories from the Blue Moon Caf , has the edge in name recognition, but connoisseurs of Southern writing in search of something new may want to pick up this upstart anthology. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library JournalEvery year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, Fairhope, AL, located on Mobile Bay, hosts an "annual literary slugfest" known as Southern Writers Reading. Brewer (Red Bluff Review; Rembrandt the Rocker), a local bookstore owner who helps organize the event, decided that the time was right to publish a chapbook of the writers who attended last year's conference. The project grew into an anthology of Southern writers, all of whom donated their fees to benefit the Fairhope Center for Writing Arts. Taking its name from last November's blue moon around Fairhope and Robert Bell's fictionalized Fairhope in his novel, The Butterfly Tree, this collection includes several essays (Rick Bragg on the delta blues and Pat Conroy on the Citadel) and a prose poem (Beth Ann Fennelly's "I Would Like To Go Back As I Am, Now, To You As You Were, Then"), in addition to fiction by writers as diverse as Jill Connor Brown, Patricia Foster, Tom Franklin, Winston Groom, Melinda Haynes, Michael Knight, Barbara Robinette Moss, Brad Watson, Steve Yarbrough, and many others. Likely to become a regional best seller, this anthology is recommended for public libraries with large Southern collections. Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
- MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
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