I’m inconsistent when I read anthologies. I skip around, set them aside, read a story here or there. After finishing the 2009 edition, I went back and read the 2008 New Stories from the South cover to cover. I’ve written about some of the writers before (here, here, and here). Other highlights include:
- Pinckney Benedict, “Bridge of Sighs.” A kid and his father are going farm to farm and slaughtering cows to prevent the spread of disease. Strange and disturbing.
- Stephanie Soileau, “So This Is Permanence.” A teenage girl has a baby, and doesn’t know what to do with it. At one point she locks it in the closet and going out with friends. I was skeptical when I began the story, having no interest in teenage girls or babies, but this story really won me over. Very memorable.
- David James Poissant, “Lizard Man.” This won Playboy’s college fiction contest a few years ago. This is about two friends driving to collect remains from one of their fathers, who just passed away. They have a compelling adventure with an alligator.
- Bret Anthony Johnston, “Republican.” The teenage son of a pawnshop owner gets a job delivering food for a Mexican restaurant. His mother has abandoned him and his father, and his father gives him a Cadillac with a torn-up roof. Nothing like a good story about a teenager’s first job.
- Kevin Brockmeier, “Andrea Is Changing Her Name.” Wow. This story is about a girl, and a few pages in there’s this POV twist: the narrator is actually Brockmeier, going omniscient into the girl’s head. He says things like, “It was the first time she could remember speaking to me outside of class.” The first time this narrator popped in, I worried it was just a stupid gimmick, but the story was really affecting. Very well done.