This book consists of nine stories; most of which are loosely connected but no attempt was made to follow a timeline or storyline. They are intended to stand alone as short stories. But, most take place in the mythical village of Phoebe in rural Virginia in the 1940s and 1950s. They are all told from the point of view of one narrator, many when the narrator was a child. Children in this time and place were often left to form their own understandings of events taking place around them in the adult world. The story, “My Father’s Necktie,” is representative of the effect on a young boy of his father’s paralysis from a stroke and the family dynamics that resulted. “A Family Tree” deals with the aftermath of World War II on the members of the Phoebe community. The settings of these stories are mostly intimate and domestic; a country store and old tobacco barn converted to a commercial garage for example. “Early Dylan: Five and Ten Cent Women” is about the narrator as he grows older and breaks away from his early life in Phoebe. All of them together form a dynamic picture of growing up in the old South.
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About the Author
Lawrence Judson Reynolds is from Concord, Virginia. He attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro writing program in the middle '60s and studied under Peter Taylor. He was a founding editor of the Greensboro Review and has published there and in Cutthroat, Blackbird, Carolina Quarterly, The New Orleans Review, Christopher Street, and Descant. He taught writing workshops at the Virginia Highlands Festival for many years and also taught two semesters of fiction writing at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He lives with his wife, Margaret, in Richmond, Virginia.
Table of Contents
Preface Fred Chappell xiii
1 The Man with the Gun 1
2 A Family Tree 23
3 My Father's Necktie 43
4 Proceedings 81
5 That Grand Canyon 103
6 The Half-Life of Holidays 127
7 Early Dylan: Five and Ten Cent Women 135
8 Last of the June Apples 165
About the Author 187
IntroductionRoute 460 runs through the mythical village of Phoebe. At least it did when I was young, when these stories were first sketched in my imagination. Since then the highway has been moved and a new bypass has taken its place and a piece of history is lost. No matter. History is not really history. You cannot make history from what little we know. You cannot tell the truth with words.Yet we keep trying. We try to tell the truth about our past. Where we lived. The heartbreak of our love. The cruelty of our master. The whisper of wind through a field of corn. The scorn of people we thought we knew. The depth of our despair. The vastness of our ego. It’s true that I thought I could find the true story of my father, who died when I was nine years old, if I just uncovered every clue, but the truth is large and stretches from here to there with no beginning and no end. The stories in this book are not meant to be true. I hope they carry some truth in them. They are a part of my history.