As Long as I’m Doing It

Writing—literary creation in the fullness of the sense that we have known it in the previous century and even in the one before, from the French and Russian masters, the daft Irish, the mad Yankees, the haunted Southerners (and from elsewhere, of course)—sometimes seems to be on the way out.  Senses of language, of irony, of place, of reality, appear to have been dulled or even eradicated by education and cable television.  Contemplation does not square with institutionalized victimology, nor does listening jibe with noise.  Or, as a thoughtful man put it the other day, “American literature is over.”  “It’s not over,” I replied.  “Maybe it’s just that Americans aren’t writing it any more.  I can’t remember what Edward Said said, but Yogi Berra said, ‘It’s not over till it’s over.’”

From what I can perceive from these collections of short fiction, there is a certain identifiable quality that emanates.  The Shape of a Man includes the story “Laissez Faire Redux,” in which the first thing that springs to mind today when you say “South Carolina” is treated fictionally and dramatically and humorously, not politically or ideologically.  The question of flying the flag, or which flag, is resolved in a demonstration of the shared Southern culture known to both races in their...

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