By Scott Brown
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:43 AM EDT

New Stories from the South 2002: The Year's Best

B+
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  • Book
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At its best, Southern fiction is a soup of wonderfully confused emotions — so too is this heady gumbo of stories from old hands (Romulus Linney, Doris Betts) and young ones (Aaron Gwyn) alike. Some are little more than exquisitely shaped fragments (Russell Banks’ haunting ”The Outer Banks”), while others, like Linney’s mournful mountain tone poem, ”Tennessee,” have the dramatic density of full novellas. There’s even room for a few mordant laughs: R.T. Smith’s bloody Civil War farce ”I Have Lost My Right” will draw guffaws from anyone who’s overdosed on Shelby Foote. And the authors’ interstitial essays — self-explications that, magically, often deepen the mood instead of destroying it — are fine palate cleansers.

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New Stories from the South 2002: The Year's Best

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