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Still Storied

As traditional as a Chinese restaurant, as homegrown as a Subaru, as agrarian as a fax machine, as Celtic as a computer, as handcrafted as cable television, as hospitable as an eight-lane expressway, as Baptist as a drug deal, as Presbyterian as neo-pagan worship, as Episcopalian as a lesbian sermonette, and as pious as an abortion mill, the contemporary South is an overheated but air-conditioned land of profound corruption, Swedish luxury sedans, and political fatuity that exemplifies everything wrong with America. Why else would a small-town boy from Arkansas, raised on wholesome values, fit in so well with the high-minded leaders of New York, Hollywood, and Haiti?

But beneath the surface of ugliness, lies, and conformity, there remains a remnant of authenticity that may be isolated privately or even demonstrated publicly. In the realm of literary culture, the short story, since Poe and Longstreet and Thorpe, has been a Southern specialty of international renown. In our century, names such as William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, Caroline Cordon, Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren, Andrew Lytle, Flannery O'Connor, and Peter Taylor come to mind first perhaps, but the import of the present volume is that the literary tradition of the South remains a vital one, even in the shadows of those masters and mistresses of the art.

Readers of this journal will be interested to know that two pieces originally published in Chronicles...

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