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A 2004 PEN/Malamud Award winner, this collection celebrates the work of American artist Richard Bausch -- a writer the New York Times calls "a master of the short story." By turns tender, raw, heartbreaking, and riotously funny, the many voices of this definitive forty-two-story collection (seven of which appear here for the first time) defy expectation, attest to Bausch's remarkable range and versatility, and affirm his place alongside such acclaimed story writers as John Cheever, Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Carver, and Grace Paley.
To drink deep of the direction and sensibility of contemporary southern fiction, savor each dram in this delectable volume. Nineteen of the South's most venerable writers- Madison Smartt Bell, Doris Betts, Fred Chappell, Ellen Douglas, Shelby Foote, George Garrett, Allan Gurganus, Barry Hannah, William Hoffman, Madison Jones, Michael Knight, William Henry Lewis, Jill McCorkle, Lewis Nordan, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Lee Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Walter Sullivan, and Allen Wier- have selected a short work for inclusion here. All of the contributors are affiliated with the Fellowship of Southern Writers, organized in 1989 under the inspiration of the late Cleanth Brooks for the purpose of encouraging and honoring excellence in southern letters. Each piece in The Cry of an Occasion celebrates the distinctness of southern experience, giving expression in story form to a singular episode of mind, heart, or will. Varying from whimsical to ominous to sidesplitting to melancholy, the stories share a regard for the people who brush against us and in so doing shape us- generations of family especially, neighbors, as well as those occasional individuals who can mysteriously yet profoundly affect our lives. On a freezing December night, a woman returning home from a first date with a man finds herself locked out of her apartment; the pains he takes to help her surprise them both. A teenage girl suffers the day of her grandmother's funeral attempting to be adult, furious with the pessimism of her mother and wounded by the absence of her father since she was three. A slave fleeing Mississippi in 1862 draws on the wisdom of breaking horses passed down from his grandfather to win assistance in his flight for freedom. Fourteen years after his teenage son's death, a man realizes his mourning is incomplete despite therapy, relocation, and the outward signs of contentment. A pregnant woman has vivid dreams- of giving birth to a kitten, of -forgetting her baby on the hood of her car, and of concealing a joint in her bra- as she watches Boston's changing seasons and struggles with her torturous enjoyment of smoking. Now where will it all end? asks one character. All this pain and loving, mystery and loss. And it just goes on and on. The occasion and expression of southern fiction are in hale and hardy form, and reading this exemplary collection is pure pleasure.
This smorgasbord of literary offerings (Publishers Weekly) self-selected by its contributors- a long list of luminaries (Library Journal)- includes works by Madison Smartt Bell, Doris Betts, Fred Chappell, Ellen Douglas, Shelby Foote, George Garrett, Allan Gurganus, Barry Hannah, William Hoffman, Madison Jones, Michael Knight, William Henry Lewis, Jill McCorkle, Lewis Nordan, Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Lee Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Walter Sullivan, and Allen Wier. All are affiliated with the Fellowship of Southern Writers, organized in 1989 under the inspiration of the late Cleanth Brooks for the purpose of encouraging and honoring excellence in southern letters. Each piece in The Cry of an Occasion celebrates the distinctness of southern experience, giving expression in story form to a singular episode of mind, heart, or will. Reading this exemplary collection is pure pleasure.
In his first collection of poetry and prose, award-winning fiction writer Richard Bausch proves that he is also an accomplished poet. Penned over a span of many years, the poems in These Extremes deal with a wide variety of subjects. Many focus on Bausch's own family and relationships. In one long, touching poem, Barbara (1943-1974), the poet memorializes his oldest sister, who died young. He also offers two prose memory pieces, recollections from his childhood and adolescence. In these brief essays, Bausch draws loving but unsentimental portraits of his father, mother, and other relatives as he reflects on the sense of belonging that he gained from his family - something he hopes to pass on to his own children in this violent, chaotic world. In Back Stories, the center of the book, Bausch effortlessly weaves poems around familiar characters from history, literature, movies, and popular culture - including Thomas Jefferson, Shakespeare's Falstaff, Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Sam, the piano player from Casablanca. Decidedly accessible in form, theme, and expression, These Extremes will surprise and delight lovers of poetry and fans of Bausch's stories and novels.
At first, all Lily Austin knows about 19th-century explorer Mary Kingsley is that, 100 years before, she was the first white woman to venture into the heart of Africa. But as Lily begins reading about Mary Kingsley, she becomes more and more fascinated - and discovers in Mary a kindred spirit. In her own life, Lily feels trapped - on the one hand, she craves family and intimate connection; on the other hand, she has no healthy or satisfying role models. Consequently, as she nears graduation from the University of Virginia, she finds herself uncertain about what to do with her life. As she researches Mary's life - she has begun writing a play about her - Lily comes to witness Mary's incredible bravery and startling originality, qualities that prove inspirational to Lily, whose own bravery is required as she attempts to navigate dysfunctional and destructive relationships with her young husband, her extended family - and a legacy of abuse dating back to her childhood.