The Alumni Grill
William Gay & Suzanne Kingsbury ed.
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Buy *The Alumni Grill: Anthology of Southern Writers* online

The Alumni Grill: Anthology of Southern Writers
William Gay and Suzanne Kingsbury, ed.
225 pages
August 2004
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The first story in this anthology, "Christians" by Tom Franklin (Hell at the Breech), sets the bar for this impressive book. In "Christians", an aggrieved woman makes a long journey of the soul, searching for a burying preacher, her faith stronger than the hard land that has rendered her days unremittingly difficult. That she is sustained by faith at all is shocking, given the brutal nature of her reality.

Suzanne Hudson offers a stunning tale of misshapen love, as a family acts out its small, painful drama, their actions warped by ignorance and fear. But hers are words of understanding and compassion; if the social fabric is torn, there are reasons. There remains the promise of difficult choices, of change. That the story was written thirty-four years ago is a testament to the power of Hudson’s vision.

Beth Ann Fennelly reaches into the true heart of young motherhood, the conflicts and small jealousies that erupt and quietly dissipate. Her intimate poetry exposes the enormous responsibility of a life so dependent on her care for survival, a precious burden destined to weigh on the heart. At the same time the port embraces deep eroticism born of the mother-child connection.

There are poignant stories of love gone wrong and the tender violence of strangers who meet in the night, a young woman who catches a thief and turns the tables to exact her own revenge on a distant father. There is loneliness between a childless woman and her husband, a tantrum-throwing brat named Gum and the unconscious cruelty of teenaged girls, whose self-absorption defines tragedy as an imposition. There is the pulsing memory of lust in a marriage gone brittle and stale and the quiet yearning of desperation that erodes the ability to endure. Finally, desecrated innocence finds release through the ministrations of a well-intentioned relative in Brad Watson’s haunting “Water Dog God."

This is an exceptional and satisfying compilation of fresh work from accomplished Southern writers. Each offering is a small jewel. In her introduction, Suzanne Kingsbury calls these stories “grave markers where you stop and remember and again lift the stone and again are rebirthed." The contributions are visceral and evocative, blunt, vital and erotic, wise, joyful and painful. Indeed, The Alumni Grill is a feast for the senses.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2004

Also by Beth Ann Fennelly:

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Also by Suzanne Hudson:

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