Local Souls

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, Sep 23, 2013 - Fiction - 344 pages
18 Reviews

With the meteoric success of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, Allan Gurganus placed himself among America’s most original and emotionally engaged storytellers. If his first comic novel mapped the late nineteenth-century South, Local Souls brings the twisted hilarity of Flannery O’Connor kicking into our new century.

Through memorable language and bawdy humor, Gurganus returns to his mythological Falls, North Carolina, home of Widow. This first work in a decade offers three novellas mirroring today’s face-lifted South, a zone revolutionized around freer sexuality, looser family ties, and superior telecommunications, yet it celebrates those locals who have chosen to stay local. In doing so, Local Souls uncovers certain old habits—adultery, incest, obsession—still very much alive in our New South, a "Winesburg, Ohio" with high-speed Internet.

Wells Tower says of Gurganus, "No living writer knows more about how humans matter to each other." Such ties of love produce hilarious, if wrenching, complications: "Fear Not" gives us a banker's daughter seeking the child she was forced to surrender when barely fifteen, only to find an adult rescuer she might have invented. In "Saints Have Mothers," a beloved high school valedictorian disappears during a trip to Africa, granting her ambitious mother a postponed fame that turns against her. And in a dramatic "Decoy," the doctor-patient friendship between two married men breaks toward desire just as a biblical flood shatters their neighborhood and rearranges their fates.

Gurganus finds fresh pathos in ancient tensions: between marriage and Eros, parenthood and personal fulfillment. He writes about erotic hunger and social embarrassment with Twain's knife-edged glee. By loving Falls, Gurganus dramatizes the passing of Hawthorne’s small-town nation into those Twitter-nourished lives we now expect and relish.

Four decades ago, John Cheever pronounced Allan Gurganus "the most technically gifted and morally responsive writer of his generation." Local Souls confirms Cheever’s prescient faith. It deepens the luster of Gurganus’s reputation for compassion and laughter. His black comedy leaves us with lasting affection for his characters and the aching aftermath of human consequences. Here is a universal work about a village.

  

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I'd been told he was a very poetic prose writer. - Goodreads
The writing is eloquent. - Goodreads
And the prose throughout is pure music. - Goodreads

Review: Local Souls

User Review  - Andy Harnish - Goodreads

Three powerful, voice-driven pieces wrestling with deep and sometimes mysterious, and sometimes shocking, longings. The second novella was probably my favorite, a hefty, southern 'woman upstairs,' but ... Read full review

Review: Local Souls

User Review  - heather van de mark - Goodreads

Local Souls is made up of three novellas -- Fear Not, Saints Have Mothers and Decoy. I don't read short stories/novellas very often and I'm never quite sure if I enjoy them. There's something ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
23
Section 2
62
Section 3
84
Section 4
89
Section 5
98
Section 6
108
Section 7
118
Section 8
122
Section 22
217
Section 23
221
Section 24
227
Section 25
230
Section 26
246
Section 27
249
Section 28
263
Section 29
268

Section 9
131
Section 10
139
Section 11
155
Section 12
163
Section 13
168
Section 14
174
Section 15
177
Section 16
181
Section 17
193
Section 18
198
Section 19
206
Section 20
210
Section 21
215
Section 30
285
Section 31
296
Section 32
304
Section 33
310
Section 34
316
Section 35
319
Section 36
327
Section 37
331
Section 38
336
Section 39
338
Section 40
345
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Alan Gurganus's, books include White People and Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All. Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Gurganus is a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Adaptations of his fiction have earned four Emmys. A resident of his native North Carolina, he lives in a village of six thousand souls.

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