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Southern Humanities Review - Spring 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 40 Number 2
  • Published Date: Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

For how trim SHR is — barely over 200 pages — its 39-year-old mission to publish “fiction, poetry, personal and critical essays, and book reviews on the arts, literature, philosophy, religion, cultural studies, and history” is grand in scope. This issue, with 2 essays, 3 stories, 8 poems and 9 book reviews, delivers just that. Becky Bradway’s story “Sara in the Apartments of the Countess” follows two young, literary, St. Louis women to a poetry party where one of them, the latent lesbian with almost Victorian sexual mores, confronts her unclear future and desires during a reading of Baudelaire. Patricia Foster’s story “Class Day” portrays a white writer’s problematic attempt to get rural Alabama black women to tell their life stories, and as she struggles to accept the cannibalistic nature of her creative endeavor — taking other peoples’ stories and “folding them” into her own — she learns to look at her own life. Poet Andrea Deagon offers a concise, deeply lyrical essay about her narcoleptic husband. Painting a life lived along the foggy line between sleep and wakefulness, dream and hallucination, “Endymion” offers a personal glimpse into a very alien existence. From the unconscious love-making to the meds to the disability checks, Deagon compares narcolepsy to a kidnapping that happens several times a day, in this case while her husband’s riding his bike, brushing his teeth, taking his bar exam. Being a Southern journal, the second essay, “Inside Passage: A Cajun in Alaska,” offers an intriguing premise but poor execution. Written around the loose similarities between Southeast Alaska and the author’s native southern Louisiana, Germain’s unfocused attention bounces between Tlingit Indian history, Indian alcoholism, her own father’s drinking and the Tenakee Spring Village’s fight against large-scale tourism, making the essay — more a meditation really — suffer from its tangential weaving. That said, it’s easy to see why work in SHR has been anthologized or honorably mentioned in New Stories from the South and Best American Essays. Plus, SHR’s table of contents groups the genres together, and, as someone who loves to skip genre to genre, that’s something to be thankful for. [www.auburn.edu/english/shr/home.htm] –Aaron Gilbreath

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Review Posted on August 31, 2006
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