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by William Gay
Whatever the persona, the colloquial title leans in close and says I’m talking to you, and I listen, eager to know what lies beyond that strangely familiar voice.
The words which affected me most, the stories I discovered accidentally and thought about all year, were from Tennessee. Short stories. The form everyone sighs about as if it will expire. No. Uh-uh. Not at my house.
While Gay himself might prize being considered among the Southern greats, his stories of desolation and beauty -- brimming, yes, with the familiar Gothic elements of violence and darkness of hearts -- feed and trouble our souls, whether or not we come to the text already knowing the “timeless tolling of whippoorwills, both bitter and reassuring,” or have passed ugly nights in a honkytonk, or keep a rifle or a pistol under the bed.