Today’s bonanza: Amy Hempel’s COLLECTED STORIES; Wells Towers’s EVERYTHING RAVAGED, EVERYTHING BURNED; the 25th anniversary edition of NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH; and three Algonquin titles of your choosing. Just leave a comment on our Facebook page to enter; or, if you’re not on Facebook, here on our blog.
Today is our final post for this week’s series celebrating NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH. If you’re in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, or if you’re even somewhat nearby, please head over to Quail Ridge Books to hear series editor Kathy Pories and contributors Wells Tower and Aaron Gwyn read from/discuss the book on MONDAY, AUGUST 30th, at 7:30 pm. The event is free and sure to be absolutely fantastic. We will be there–will you???
Today’s interview is with founding series editor Shannon Ravenel, who shares with us, among other things, her favorite stories from the first twenty years of NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH. Have any favorite Southern stories of your own?
Since I’m now more or less retired and working as “editor at large,” I do all my editing at home, which I like.
2. What does a Southern story mean to you?
I wrote some Forewords to the early volumes of New Stories from the South trying to define “Southern Stories.” For me, it boils down to the setting—if the story is set in the U.S. South, it’s “Southern.”
3. You were the series editor for New Stories from the South for twenty years. Were there any major surprises along the way? Any particular stories that stand out as your favorites?
I started the series in 1986 and edited it (without guest editors) until 2005—so my stint was 20 years. For the first five of those, I was also Series Editor of Best American Short Stories for Houghton.
Stand out stories: Lewis Nordan’s “Sugar, the Eunuchs and Big G.B.” (1987), Larry Brown’s “Facing the Music” (1988), Robert Olen Butler’s “Relic” (1991), Heather Sellers’s “Fla. Boys” (1999), William Gay’s “The Paper Hanger” (2001)
4. What’s the last non-work-related book you read that stopped you in your tracks?
Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout
5. What’s the last book you loaned out that you regret giving away?
In Richard’s World, by William Barnwell (HMCo. 1968)
6. On what basis did you choose stories to include in the anthology?
As for technical aspects, only two: That the story is set mainly in the American South, and that it was published first serially in the year preceding our annual volume. As for the rest of my criteria: Would it be too evasive to say simply that the stories I selected were the ones I wanted to read again, for my own enjoyment?
7. What does the South mean to you?
8. What is your favorite place in the South?
Camden, South Carolina
9. More importantly, please describe your favorite meal in the South.
Hoppin’ John and Ham on New Year’s Day
10. In her introduction as guest editor to New Stories from the South: 2010, Amy Hempel writes, “Much of what I read from the contemporary South has a soundtrack.” As a North Carolinian resident, what is your current Southern soundtrack?
I’m one of those very rare Southerners who is, as Lee Smith once put it, musically impaired. I listen to whatever my husband listens to, which is mostly bluegrass. But I could live without it.
*Bonus question: You are stranded on a desert island with any celebrity, living only. Who would you choose?