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 Literary Classic Review    

 

 
In the Miro District and Other Stories
(Voices of the South series)
by Peter Taylor
Louisiana State University Press, 2002
Trade paperback, $15.95 (204 pages)
ISBN: 0-8071-2843-0
 
 
 

Peter Taylorís tales of the South unleash and illustrate a variety of conflicts, mainly within the upper crust social order of Tennessee. Many of the pieces of In the Miro District and Other Stories approach fictional Memphis and Nashville societies, uncovering alcoholism, despair, and discord.  Unexpectedly Taylorís spare descriptions expose nuggets of truths amongst the rubble or disharmony of his charactersí lives.  This collection was originally published in 1974.

Taylorís compilation alternates between prose and verse.  The first of four prose stories, ďThe Captainís Son,Ē captivates the reader as a genteel family in a post-Depression, post-Prohibition era uncovers a secret underbelly of their previously staid existence.  Instead of dramatic havoc, as one expects with todayís world of Jerry Springer, Taylorís characters, with a sleight-of-hand, deal with their problem, seemingly without breaking into a sweat or revealing it to the rest of their societal network.

 ďThe Hand of Emmagene,Ē one of Taylorís four accessible verse stories, tells the tale of a hard-working young lady living with her cousin, Nancy, and her husband.  Taylor entertains the reader with mysterious callers and the seeming niceties of the first blushes of hopeful courtship.  Taylorís pacing is so steady that a reader might actually gasp while reading the closing lines.  Taylorís skillful writing ensures that there are many other such moments within this volume.

After reading In the Miro District and Other Stories, it is no surprise that a year following its publication the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded the Gold Medal Award for the short story.  Taylor offers a careful and engaging depiction of characters keeping their chins up while navigating an intriguing world.

 

Elizabeth King Humphrey
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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