The Southern Review - Winter 2007
- Issue Number: Volume 43 Number 1
- Published Date: Winter 2007
- Publication Cycle: Quarterly
- Review by: Jim Scott
In the introduction to the seventeenth installment of the “Writing in the South” series, Editor Bret Lott questions the past, present and future of Southern literature through the lens of Walter Sullivan’s essay in the original “Writing in the South” issue, thirty-nine years ago. Sullivan wrote, “[…] the new Southern writer must be something other than Southern: his faith and vision must be fixed somewhere beyond the Southern experience: he must find his own source. Only then can he bring the old images alive once more.” Lott restates this hope, “Flannery O’Connor serves in Mr. Sullivan’s text to exemplify the true artist’s ability to transcend his or her own South and, through that transcendence, to return to that South in order best to illuminate, not southernness, but the human condition in relation to those southern streams and fields and crazy characters.” Using this as a measuring stick for this issue, what would be a fair success rate? One story? One poem? One transcendent moment? As it turns out, The Southern Review acquits itself nicely in the transcendent moment category, both with fresh and familiar writers. Newer writers include John Biguenet, whose short story “An Encounter at Nightfall” manages a great amount of tension without any grounding for the reader, and Remy Ramirez, whose poem sequence “Farm Stories” does exactly what both Sullivan and Lott suggest by sweeping in and out from identifiably “Southern” to more universal moments. Ramirez also pens one of this issue’s most memorable images, “There was only a shower / made of concrete that had turned / green with wet stains, and tiny / frogs would climb up through the / drain and say things under their breath / as I showered.” It is just this kind of image that transcends place and time, the clarity so startling that it had to belong to Ramirez specifically, but any drain I came across over the next few days threatened to be overcome by frogs. In this way it became mine as well. Which is exactly what Sullivan and Lott had in mind. [www.lsu.edu/thesouthernreview]Return to List.