Cover image for The cry of an occasion : fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers
The cry of an occasion : fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers
Bausch, Richard, 1945-
Publication Information:
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiii, 210 pages ; 23 cm
Naked lady / Three ghosts / Encyclopedia Daniel / About loving women / Sacred mound / Feeling good, feeling fine / Reassurance / Death and joy / Secret garden / Sim Denny / For Alice to the fourth floor / Germinating / Life prerecorded / Tombstone / Man at the beach / Between the lines / Everlasting light / Losses / Excerpts from the novel Tehano
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PS551 .C79 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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.

Author Notes

Richard Bausch is the author of five story collections and eight novels, including Take Me Back and Real Presence. He is the Heritage Professor of Writing at George Mason University.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

All 19 contributors to this mixed collection are associated with the Fellowship of Southern Writers, based in Chattanooga and organized in 1989 under the aegis of the late esteemed critic Cleanth Brooks for the purpose of encouraging and honoring excellence in Southern letters. Many of the writers are household names where Southern literature is discussed. However, while several of the stories are well crafted and touching, an equal number do not represent these authors at their best, despite their having been chosen by the authors themselves. "Between the Lines," by the irrepressible Lee Smith, is from her long-ago collection Cakewalk. The story is a classic, telling of an optimistic rural woman who puts a positive spin on the most life-shattering events as she composes a fortnightly column for a Greenville, S.C., newspaper. Of equal excellence is Elizabeth Spencer's "Everlasting Light," a short, powerful tale of a father's overwhelming love for his daughter. Michael Knight, a young writer who burst onto the scene just a few years ago, delivers a memorable narrative in "For Alice to the Fourth Floor," concerning a woman who returns from a first date to find herself locked out of her apartment on a freezing December night, and the pains her new friend takes to help her. In "Feeling Good, Feeling Fine," George Garrett captures a magic and tragic baseball moment from a boy's childhood. Stories by Allan Gurganus, Barry Hannah, Shelby Foote, Doris Betts, William Henry Lewis and Jill McCorkle are less engaging, some too long and rambling, some difficult to fully understand. This is a smorgasbord of literary offerings, several still tasty, others having lost their freshness. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

According to George Garrett's introduction, the Fellowship of Southern Writers was organized in the 1980s by the late Cleanth Brooks to encourage and recognize Southern writing. This wildly varied compilation of short stories contains works (some quite short) by a long list of luminaries: an oddity, "The Naked Lady," by Madison Smartt Bell, some historical fiction by Shelby Foote and Allan Gurganus, and brief gems by Doris Betts and Fred Chappell. Some of the best pieces are by less familiar names: in searing and heartfelt prose, Lewis Nordan's "Tombstone" describes a man's coming to terms with his teenaged son's suicide many years earlier; every word is carefully chosen. Selections by Jill McCorkle, Lee Smith, and William Hoffman are also included in this interesting proof of the vitality of Southern fiction. Like any regional collection, however, it has a prevailing tone but no theme. For regional libraries.DAnn H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.