Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Selected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty

Synopsis: Eudora Welty's subjects are the people who live in southern towns like Jackson, Mississippi, which has been her home for all of her long life. I've stayed in one place,' she says, and 'it's become the source of the information that stirs my imagination.' Her distinctive voice and wry observations are rooted in the southern conversational tradition. The stories in this volume, from the first two collections she published, range in tone from the quietly understated and psychologically subtle to the outrageously grotesque. Linking them all is Welty's remarkable ear for the language and point of view of the South." (From the back of the book)

Review: I picked this up at a book sale for cheap, mostly because the forward is by Katherine Anne Porter. I also read Welty is considered one of the great Southern short story writers. I enjoy short stories, and since this contains two complete collections, I thought it was worth the pennies. Now, as for her stories. First, they are distinctly Southern, and distinctly pre-Martin Luther. Originally published in 1936, her attitudes towards blacks is typical of the deep south during the early part of the 1900s. She uses the word nigger* quite a bit, often in a disparaging manor and her portrayal of blacks feels like a caricature and a farce.

Second, I found the stories Gothic, odd, weird, and sometimes horrible confusing. For at least 1/3 of the stories, I was uncertain what was happening, or even who the main character was. This isn't to say her prose isn't interesting. She had clever and descriptive word choices and illustration. But they did nothing to clarify what the heck she was saying!

I can see why she is considered a Great. This is just the sort of dense, vague, high-literature, super-deep writing that is generally considered great. However, I can't help but wonder if it's a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. Nobody gets it, but they don't say so to avoid appearing stupid or low-brow.

Bookmarks: 4 of 10

Awards: Several regional awards

Date Finished: 3-29-2011
Pages: 214

*I use this word in the academic sense and I believe in being clear when discussing things of this nature. You don't get anywhere pretending these things don't exsist.

1 comment:

  1. I haaaaate it when I feel like everyone loves a book because they think they'll seem sophisticated if they act like they get it. I'm reading one now. *sigh*.