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Perhaps no region of America has contributed as much to 20th-century literature as the South. But as the years progress, the South canonized by Faulkner, O'Connor and Welty is harder and harder to find. Tight-knit, small-town America has slowly given way to acres of sprawling suburbs and anonymous mini-malls. Harris and George have gathered stories and photographs that chronicle this new South. Several are excerpted from previously published books, such as Julius Lester's And All Our Wounds Forgiven, Richard Bausch's Rare and Endangered Species and Robert Olen Butler's A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. If these stories lack O'Connor's distinct flair for religion and the absurd or Faulkner's grasp of the weight of the past, that's the idea. In these 10 stories, the Civil War isn't history, it's all but forgotten in favor of the day-to-day histories of its residents. But the truth is that in depicting the quotidian, the stories don't work as well as several of the photograph series. Mark Steinmetz's stark black-and-white photos, culled from his collection "At the Edge of the City," capture teenagers and young adults whose hard stares and awkward glances betray their youth and leisure. Daring to be approached, as if their secrets are too awful to share, this generation of Southerners isn't so different from its peers in the rest of the country.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The ghosts of Faulkner and O'Connor have haunted succeeding generations of writers with their mythopoetic fictions of the steamy, violent South of small towns mired in segregation and characterized by a feudal division of wealth and women recoiling from serpentine men with incest and/or miscegenation on their minds. This current anthology, published under the auspices of Doubletake (one of LJ's ten best new magazines of 1995) takes aim at the past, attempting to "give the reader and viewer a better sense of life in the contemporary South" through the eyes of ten writers and 11 photographers. Photo essays follow each story, not illustrating it per se but elaborating on it and enriching the reader's vision of the region. For example, Robert Olen Butler's "The Trip Back," set against an expatriate Vietnamese community in Louisiana, is followed by selections from Mitch Epstein's "Vietnam in Versailles," shot in Versailles, Louisiana. The interplay of words and pictures?truth and fiction?is at once comic, revealing, and vibrant, recording a determined effort to reimagine the South. Recommended.?Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.