Southern Stories: The Selected Stories Volume 1 by Clark BlaiseSouthern Stories: The Selected Stories Volume 1 by Clark Blaise

Southern Stories: The Selected Stories Volume 1

byClark Blaise

Paperback | November 15, 2000

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The stories collected here in Volume One are among the earliest in Blaise's forty-year publishing career. The experience of Florida -- particularly the underdeveloped north-central areas close to modern Disneyfied Orlando -- profoundly affected a `Yankee' child with Canadian parents. The Florida Blaise describes is little-changed since the Civil War.

The stories in this volume trace a young writer's journey towards his life's work. By the close of his Florida experience, he has discovered a way of integrating his Canadian, and especially his French-Canadian, background into a sub-tropical foreground.

Included are two very early stories, `A Fish Like a Buzzard' and `Giant Turtle, Gliding in the Dark', which have not previously been published in book form. Southern Stories assembles the best of Clark Blaise's early work in one collection. His powerful writing is as relevant to our times now as it was when these stories first appeared. Included here are stories from A North American Education, Tribal Justice, Man and His World and Resident Alien.

Clark Blaise has taught in Montreal, Toronto, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as at Skidmore College, Columbia University, Iowa, NYU, Sarah Lawrence and Emory. For several years he directed the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Among the most widely travelled of authors, he has taught or lectured in Ja...
Title:Southern Stories: The Selected Stories Volume 1Format:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 8.7 × 5.55 × 0.58 inPublished:November 15, 2000Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889842191

ISBN - 13:9780889842199

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Read from the Book

The world is a continuum of borderlands -- when Canadian French is so commonly spoken in Maine and Mexican Spanish in California, what meaning has the invisible dotted line? And yet the demarcation of `here' versus `there' is among the richest of literary territories, probably because it offers such opportunity to juxtapose the self with the other.For more than twenty years I have turned to Clark Blaise's writing as I might hire an interpreter in a foreign land -- someone to help me understand my own borderlands, the rich and scary places where I am brought up against the shifting construction of identities I call myself. Clark Blaise is of my America and apart from it, at once a Canadian and a U.S. citizen, Yankee and Southerner, native and exile -- a global citizen before we invented the phrase to describe the condition.Blaise's childhood embraced the most radically different of North American subcultures: Canada relying on its European heritage to distinguish and distance itself from the U.S., and an American South fiercely disdaining all that smacked of Yankees and the North. He is a chronicler of paradox -- which as any fictionist knows is where the real goods lie -- writing fictions of contradiction set in landscapes divided North from South, rich from poor, white from black, insider from outsider. He is the immigrant's legitimate prophet -- understanding `prophet' not as one who foretells the future but as one who (like Isaiah or Jeremiah) offers an unflinching portrait of the realities of the present. In these stories, this encompasses a description -- sometimes poignant, often harrowing -- of what it means to be an intruder into the sullen culture of the white communities of the South, a culture of defeat, so vastly insecure that its principal source of validation lies in victimizing any and all who are different, foreign, `other' (even when, as is often the case with African-Americans, the `other' constitutes a numerical majority).No landscape offered the prophet richer potential than that of the Old South in its last-gasp days -- on the verge of becoming, for the second time in its history, the destination of Northerners seeking the quick buck, except that this time the carpetbaggers would be welcomed with open arms, and for better and worse would settle in to stay. The American South of Clark Blaise's stories -- the South in which I grew up -- was teetering at the precipice of its century-late tumble into the modern world; on the verge of transforming itself -- or, more often, being transformed -- from a culture that measured time by generations into one that measures it by the time card and the clock. Blaise writes of that transition from the most peculiar and fascinating perspective -- the outsider's timeless time, the immigrant's placeless place. The great religious historian Mircea Eliade describes how Judeo-Christian civilization invented linear time. Earlier cultures envisioned time as a circle or spiral or sphere in which history endlessly repeats itself; then the late Jewish prophets initiated the conception of a linear, chronological progress toward apocalypse -- the end of time, after which the saved and the damned would dwell in some eternal place, a place outside of time. Taken up by Christianity, that idea achieved its apotheosis in the American experiment. The founding of the U.S. sprang from and requires the notion of perfectibility, of progress (`our most important product') toward some city on a hill which, once attained, will constitute the end of time and the beginning of some new, timeless eternity.The South of Blaise's stories -- rural, poor, obsessed with the fantasy of creating victory wholecloth from the tatters of defeat -- still dwelt in something closer to that ancient, circular time. Into this humid, unchanging landscape walks a Northerner of Canadian ancestry, a creature more exotic than even a European because he seems in the face of manifest destiny and good sense to have stubbornly chosen his fate (as a schoolchild I looked at the long horizontal stretch of Canada and wondered why its citizens didn't concede the obvious, throwing in the maple leaf flag and becoming the fifty-first state).Probably because of his status as outsider, Blaise seems always to have resided in and written from non-linear time. Even as the American publishing mainstream was adhering to chronological, apocalyptic time -- the action rising in a strong, consistent line to a dramatic climax, after which the author quickly and gracefully exits -- Blaise was writing round, seamless narratives that share more with the Southerner Eudora Welty or the Canadian Alice Munro than with the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard ideal. These stories circle back on themselves -- they dwell not in chronological but in circular time, the time not of the railroad engineer but of the priest and the poet. They h

Editorial Reviews

`The pieces collected ... display the sure hand of a skilled writer. And though Blaise is unflinching is his portrayal of the poverty and backwardness of the post-war American South, a muted sense of wonder leads the reader over some very rough terrain.'