The State of the Art

This volume of short stories seems to me to represent, as a book, two distinct levels of meaning. The first and most insistent of these levels is of course as a diverse gathering of brilliant fictions, each one a self-justifying experience. The variety of voices and subjects is itself refreshing and rewarding; the high standard of excellence suggests that the inclusion of each story was a judgment made by an informed and discriminating intelligence.

The multiple juxtapositions strike many sparks, but before I remark on some of those specific flashes of illumination, I want to point to a second but no means negligible level of meaning implied by this anthology. I refer specifically to Revelation as a centennial anthology and to the literary tradition or association that is celebrated by this gathering of stories. The volume is a part of the centennial of the Sewanee Review that was observed last fall, and more. It commemorates the superb fiction that has been published by the review for five decades, since Andrew Lytle and the late Allen Tate began there in the 1940's. John Palmer continued the practice, as did Monroe Spears in the 1950's. Andrew Lytle maintained the standard he himself had set during his second editorship, from 1961 to 1973. Since then, George Core has, to say the least, maintained the tradition for 20 more years.

In this context, we must be reminded of Andrew Lytle's anthology...

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