Every year for my birthday, I can count on Dr. H. buying me the year’s best collection of stories from the South. I love short stories. I used to be a voracious reader of short stories, and now I seem to only read them once each year. I have no reasons why. I think that it may be because when I read short stories, I yearn to write them. And I right now I just don’t have the time.
Someday I’ll be in that place again. But for now, I look forward to this yearly collection. Only this year: not so much. I have to say this set of stories, edited by JJ Packer, was — for me— the worst collection since Annie Proulx edited the Best American Short Stories back in 1997.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy any of the stories. A few were excellent. Most just left me feeling, um, dirty. Slimy. As if I were sliding against a brick wall in a filthy alley. A few I even totally skipped because I could not connect at all. I have reached the stage where I can say, “I’m skipping this one” without feeling like I might be missing out on something wonderful, or cheating.
Not my favorite. This collection seems to be a tribute to the dirty side of the South that is rapidly becoming too well known. I see faces of meth addicts in the newspaper at least a couple of times each week around here, and that reality is enough for me. I like the sipping-sweet-tea South much better. Yes, it’s called denial. And right now, I can live with that.