Fiction Anthology Review  

The Cry of an Occasion: Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers
Edited by Richard Bausch
LSU Press, 2001
ISBN:  0-8071-2635-7

 

In the forward to this anthology, George Garrett gives a history of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and their goals for the future.  The organization was founded in 1989 and meets biennially at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.  This fiction anthology is the first published project, which will be followed by books of non-fiction and poetry.  All earnings from The Cry of an Occasion will go to the Fellowship.  George Garrett concludes, “It is our hope that this book, these books, will give to the reader a sense of the direction and development of Southern writing in our time.”

Nineteen members of the Fellowship contributed short stories to this collection.  Each provides a window into the Southern experience, whether it is a dysfunctional family during a funeral or a slave in 1862 running toward freedom. 

“The Encyclopedia Daniel,” by Fred Chappell.  A boy is creating his own encyclopedia by writing a page in his notebook about everything he knows about a subject.  He carefully works down the alphabet, but one day jumps from “cows” to “fish”.  There are words and emotions hard to understand, like “father”.

“Death and Joy,” by Barry Hannah.  In an Oxford, Mississippi bar sits Elkin Dixon Willifox, who looks like the late Tennessee Williams on a bad day.  A poet unsuccessful in his desire of men, Willifox died an alcoholic.  Hannah laments how Willifox missed the literary awards and accolades achieved by Allen Ginsberg.

“Life Prerecorded,” by Jill McCorkle.  Set in Boston, a pregnant woman craves a cigarette and dreams of giving birth to kittens.  She befriends Joseph, an elderly neighbor, who walks with and watches over her.  The dreams continue as she jumps from the different scenes in her life. 

“Between the Lines,” by Lee Smith.  Mrs. Joline B. Newhouse is a columnist for the local newspaper.  She writes social news to give hope and inspire.  For the truth, you have to read between the lines. 

Richard Bausch, who has authored five story collections and eight novels, is the Heritage Professor of Writing at George Mason University.  Like many advocates of southern writing, Bausch as editor of this work expresses the collection of exceptional stories is “the cry of an occasion”—a phrase he first heard from Allen Wier.  This reviewer agrees.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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