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 Fantasy Review    

 

 

Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic
Edited by F. Brett Cox and Andy Duncan
TOR Books, 2004
Hardcover, $24.95 (384 pages)
ISBN: 0-765-30813-4
 
 
 

A new anthology of short fiction, Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic, brings together tales of the supernatural with works of science fiction—all under the auspices of southern literature. The image of a “crossroads,” or the “crossing of the ways,” had previously been used by cultural historians to signify the arrival of the modern machine age in the agrarian south. The editors of this collection, F. Brett Cox and Andy Duncan, tell us that their title refers instead to the intersection of the literature of the fantastic with the tradition of southern literature. 

Many of the pieces are published here for the first time, and the rest are of recent vintage. If the reader is looking to trace the history of the truly peculiar in southern literature, more scholarly anthologies in the future will be needed. The editors acknowledge the debt to Poe in a brief introduction, and Poe’s influence is deep on the different modern genres in which fantastic science and the supernatural operate.  

The editors take the risky step of including their own work in this anthology, which is striking for the uneven quality of its selections. The memorable pieces of fiction in Crossroads, and there are many, are remarkable as stories first, for the tidings they bring of our shared human experience. The “southernness” of the stories is not always self-evident, a categorical slipperiness that makes this collection no different from any other anthology of southern writing. However, there are distinctively southern qualities in the range of influence on the authors, antecedents that include Poe, Faulkner, Hurston, O’Connor, and Cormac McCarthy as well as Asimov, Bradbury, and Rowling. Three masterpieces of Southern gothic—“The Fall of the House of Usher,” “A Rose for Emily,” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” are retold here by contemporary authors from fresh points of view.  

Works by Sena Jeter Naslund, Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Kelly Link, Bret Lott and Brad Watson highlight this collection of southern short fiction. Most readers will find themselves pulled in the direction either of science fiction or the more literary fiction of the fantastic, and the choices here are plentiful of both.

 

Vince Brewton
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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