A friend of ours in Tennessee has a friend who loves “regional” writers, specifically Southern ones.
A “regional” writer is a writer whose work is set in a specific place and addresses issues peculiar to that place or addresses universal issues in a way particular to that place.
The friend of the friend recommends books to the friend, and the friend passes those recommendations — and sometimes copies of the books — along to us.
The book I just finished is TONGUES OF FLAME, a collection of short stories by Mary Ward Brown. First published in 1986, the stories are like miniature watercolors suggesting so much more than they show. Some of the stories are between family members or inlaws, but most of them deal with the shifting, sometimes comfortable but often highly uncomfortable relationships between blacks and whites during and shortly after the Civil Rights struggle.
I’ve never read anything so ripe for pontificating that had absolutely none. With elegant clarity and perfect use of telling detail, Ward shows us just enough of a situation to open our hearts and minds to the baffling worlds within worlds that is life with people in it.
If you’ve ever thought, or ever had anybody tell you, that “literary” fiction is fiction where nothing happens, this is one of the books I’d recommend to refute that. Although it might not. Like real life, from moment to moment nothing happens and everything happens.
This is a book I’ll return to again and again. Highly recommended.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character gets into an argument about what’s worth reading.