On the Gulf

On the Gulf

Elizabeth Spencer
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 182
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  • Book Info
    On the Gulf
    Book Description:

    The magnetic appeal of land, sea, and sky along the southern coast has drawn Elizabeth Spencer many times to this lush and semitropical setting. This collection brings together six of her stories set amid terrain lapped by the warm coastal currents. These stories all happen on the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, from New Orleans to Florida. In each a girl or young woman gives voice to the narrative, probing and groping for a secure place and identity.

    The six stories included here are "On the Gulf," "The Legacy," "A Fugitive's Wife," "Mr. McMillan," "Go South in the Winter," and "Ship Island." Each reveals the special allure of the Gulf Coast region through the author's depiction of character and engagement with the complexities of plot. In these stories that illuminate the lives of sundry females--from insecure waifs to novice seductresses--Spencer investigates female psyche, a topic which lies at the core of much of her fiction.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-920-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION An Opening to the Sea
    (pp. ix-xxx)

    If I could have one part of the world back the way it used to be, I would not choose Dresden before the fire bombing, Rome before Nero, or London before the blitz. I would not resurrect Babylon, Carthage or San Francisco. Let the leaning tower lean and the hanging gardens hang. I want the Mississippi Gulf Coast back as it was before Hurricane Camille.

    All through my childhood and youth, north of Jackson, up in the hills, one happy phrase comes down intact: “the coast.”They’ve just been to the coast … they’re going to the coast next week...

    (pp. 1-8)

    Mary Dee went out in the heat in the early afternoon and began to swing. Back and forth, back and forth, sitting with her skirt around her, flying open and shut. It was something to do.

    Semmes, their old colored woman, came out and said, “Don’t swing so high, Dee-dee. It worries your mama.”

    “She’s on the other side,” said Mary Dee, swooping past.

    There was a daytime moon. When she went her highest, her tennis shoes rested on it.

    “Them folks coming from N’Orlens. You know how your mama is about company.”

    “Wears her out,” said Mary Dee, and...

    (pp. 9-38)

    In the stillness, from three blocks over, Dottie Almond could hear a big diesel truck out on the highway, climbing the grade up to the stoplight, stopping, shifting gears and passing on.

    She went and brushed her hair that was whiter than pull candy and rubbed a little dime store lipstick on her mouth. In the bathroom window, her cousin Tandy’s big white buckskin shoes all but covered the sill. They were outlined with swirling perforated leather strips, toe and heel and nest for laces, and had been placed there to dry. When he got back from Memphis, he would...

    (pp. 39-44)

    The old lady now is getting me to read letters aloud to her; furthermore, I have to answer them. She is in charge of my soul at this point. Everything depends on her. Of course, she is going to take some advantages. That is to be expected.

    … Dear Agnes paragraph indent if I do not write you more often please do not think that I am not always interested in you and your boys you are often in my thoughts do you know how to punctuate?

    Yes, but now I have to start over (I am giggling at my...

    (pp. 45-56)

    There are few sights more pleasant than a girl and a man dining happily together, and those two over in the corner were laughing as well that night, not too loudly but not softly either, because something was really funny, you had to suppose. In the courtyard restaurant out in the soft New Orleans September air, people spaced out among banana plants, lanterns, candlelight, palm trees, and a fish pool, turned from various distances and smiled.

    Aline could soon be seen wiping her eyes on the big white napkin. It was an old habit, a tendency to cry when she...

    (pp. 57-64)

    Mrs. Landis came out into the morning sun of the West Indies in bathing suit and robe, seeking her beach chair before the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. She arranged her possessions around her, book and beach bag containing her cap, cosmetics, and wallet, then draped her towel on the back of the chair, and having smeared herself with sun-protective lotion, opened her book and began to read. She soon became sleepy (at the same time as her husband a thousand miles to the north was sleepy also: he suffered from a mild hangover and was disinclined to tackle his...

  9. SHIP ISLAND The Story of a Mermaid
    (pp. 65-106)

    The French book was lying open on a corner of the dining room table, between the floor lamp and the window. The floor lamp, which had come with the house, had a cover made of green glass, with a fringe. The French book must have lain just that way for two months. Nancy, coming in from the beach, tried not to look at it. It reminded her of how much she had meant to accomplish during the summer, of the strong sense of intent, something like refinement, with which she had chosen just that spot for studying. It was out...