October 24, 2021

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New Southern Fiction By Percival Everett, Wiley Money and Andrew Siegrist

New Southern Fiction By Percival Everett, Wiley Cash and Andrew Siegrist

At 105 years outdated, the native “root physician,” Mama Z, has documented practically each lynching in America since 1913, and she or he chides the prolific educational writer of a “two-volume work on the organic and philosophical origins of racial violence in the US” for his means “to assemble 307 pages on such a subject with out an oz. of shock.” The professor is outraged, nevertheless, when studying by Mama Z’s recordsdata on lynchings, copying down the names of the victims. “The crime, the apply, the faith of it,” Everett writes, “was turning into extra pernicious as he realized that the similarity of their deaths had brought about these women and men to be directly erased and coalesced like one piece, like one physique. They have been all a quantity and no quantity in any respect, many and one, a symptom, an indication.”

This coalescence will take one thing of a supernatural kind because the murders proceed, the enforcers of “retributive justice” transferring as one, making “a collective noise,” chanting one syllable: “rise.”

By Andrew Siegrist
193 pp. Hub Metropolis Press. Paper, $16.95.

Siegrist’s debut assortment, winner of the C. Michael Curtis Brief Story Prize, is a muted affair. Unhappy fathers of misplaced sons and disappeared daughters populate these quiet tales, in a guide unified by a gently plaintive tone, heavy symbolism and a reverence for Tennessee.

The moms on this guide are sometimes distant or useless, and Siegrist offers tender remedy to those fragile, deserted males and boys. In “Whittled Bone,” a mom sleeps or stares out the window whereas her husband copes with the disappearance of their daughter by accumulating and arranging the useless wasps, spider webs and cattle bones she’d recorded in her dream journal earlier than she ran away. The motherless siblings of “Satellites” should determine whether or not to assist their father, who plans to kill himself the day NASA’s UARS satellite tv for pc burns out and falls from the sky. One other grief-stricken son learns magic tips from his father, who “swallows hearth on avenue corners for cash,” and imagines the even higher phantasm of bringing his mom again to life.

Politics are practically absent from these worlds, however there’s social context to be discovered within the deft particulars: the nesting of cottonmouth snakes, caterpillars collected in Ball jars, a father analyzing the childhood scar on the forehead of his son who lies useless from an overdose. There’s a unusual sense of virtually antediluvian time working on this atmospheric assortment, and intriguing hints at lives influenced extra by fantasy than by historical past. A grieving younger father tells the story of a woman with waist-length eyelashes, who raised sacred issues by planting pages of the Bible within the earth. One other father remembers the story of a girl who made miracles by sending candles floating downriver, towards the ocean.

Coffins and coolers fill with water as characters pray for the rain that at all times comes. Possibly Siegrist’s South is edging nearer to diluvian dream time, the place the floods of the previous and the floods of the longer term are the identical torrent as a result of, as he writes, “each drop of water on earth has been right here because the starting of time.”

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