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Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories

Edited By Morris Allen Grubbs
With an Introduction by Wade Hall
an Afterword by Charles E. May
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 426
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  • Book Info
    Home and Beyond
    Book Description:

    With an introduction by Wade Hall

    Morris Grubbs has sifted through vintage classics, little-known gems, and stunning debuts to assemble this collection of forty stories by popular and critically acclaimed writers. In subtle and profound ways they challenge and overturn accepted stereotypes about the land their authors call home, whether by birth or by choice. Kentucky writers have produced some of the finest short stories published in the last fifty years, much of which focuses on the tension between the comforts of community and the siren-like lure of the outside world. Arranged chronologically, from Robert Penn Warren's "Blackberry Winter" to Crystal E. Wilkinson's "Humming Back Yesterday," these stories are linked by their juxtaposition of departures and returns, the familiar and the unknown, home and beyond.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4392-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Morris A. Grubbs
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
    Wade Hall

    In this collection of short stories, Morris A. Grubbs has prepared a literary feast for readers of varied tastes. There are short short stories and long short stories. There are styles as complex as Faulkner, as plain as Hemingway, and as experimental as John Dos Passos. There are characters you will love and admire and those you will despise, some you will want to take home as permanent guests, and a few you’d like to have locked up.

    These stories, published between 1945 and 2000, offer travels into the past, into fantasy, into geography. You will be taken on trips...

  5. 1945–1960

    • Blackberry Winter (1946)
      (pp. 3-19)
      Robert Penn Warren

      It was getting into June and past eight o’clock in the morning, but there was a fire—even if it wasn’t a big fire, just a fire of chunks—on the hearth of the big stone fireplace in the living room. I was standing on the hearth, almost into the chimney, hunched over the fire, working my bare toes slowly on the warm stone. I relished the heat which made the skin of my bare legs warp and creep and tingle, even as I called to my mother, who was somewhere back in the dining room or kitchen, and said:...

    • The Petrified Woman (1947)
      (pp. 20-30)
      Caroline Gordon

      We were sitting on the porch at the Fork—it is where two creeks meet—after supper, talking about our family reunion. It was to be held at a place called Arthur’s Cave that year (it has the largest entrance in the world, though it is not so famous as Mammoth), and there was to be a big picnic dinner, and we expected all our kin and connections to come, some of them from as far off as California.

      Hilda and I had been playing in the creek all afternoon and hadn’t had time to wash our legs before we...

    • The Nest (1948)
      (pp. 31-36)
      James Still

      Nezzie Hargis rested on a clump of broomsage and rubbed her numb hands. Her cheeks smarted and her feet had become a burden. Wind flowed with the sound of water through trees high on the ridge and the sun appeared caught in the leafless branches. Cow paths wound the slope, a puzzle of trails going nowhere. She thought, “If ever I could see a smoke or hear an ax ring, I’d know the way.”

      Her father had said, “Nezzie, go stay a night with your Aunt Clissa”; and Mam, the woman her father had brought to live with them after...

    • The Men (1948)
      (pp. 37-42)
      Jane Mayhall

      I remember when I was eleven years old and attended a ballet for the first time. It was held at the Memorial Auditorium, a large building in the town where I lived.

      During the first group of dances, I sat up very high in the balcony with my family and the stage seemed too far away. It was a pretty show at such a distance, but the dancers with their bright dots of costumes appeared as small and no more alive than marionettes.

      When intermission came, some friends of the family suggested that I sit down in the second row...

    • Evenings at Home (1948)
      (pp. 43-50)
      Elizabeth Hardwick

      I am here in Kentucky with my family for the first time in a number of years and, naturally, I am quite uncomfortable, but not in the way I had anticipated before leaving New York. The thing that startles me is that I am completely free and can do and say exactly what I wish. This freedom leads me to the bewildering conclusion that the notions I have entertained about my family are fantastic manias, complicated, willful distortions which are so clearly contrary to the facts that I might have taken them from some bloody romance, or, to be more...

    • Anthem of the Locusts (1949)
      (pp. 51-57)
      Dean Cadle

      Logan Roberts laid his .22 rifle beside him on top of the flat sandstone rock and lit a cigarette, wondering why people in the camp disliked the sound of the locusts so much. Some of the people said their whirring was like a million rattlesnakes going at once, while others complained that they drowned the singing of the birds and that you couldn’t hear your own voice.

      It was true they did make a lot of noise, but their being there had not bothered Logan, and he supposed that was because they were something different. As he sat listening to...

    • Lost Land of Youth (1950)
      (pp. 58-65)
      Jesse Stuart

      Bert mused on his own fate as he drove along, looking at the old tobacco barns filled with bright burley. He observed the tobacco stubble on the rugged slopes and the little creek bottoms. These were the same places tobacco grew when he was a boy. But the valley had changed. The giant timber was replaced by second growth on the rugged slopes not suited for tobacco. He could remember, and he could see it from the photographs of memory, the long trains of mule teams going down the old Lost Creek road with two and three hogsheads of tobacco...

    • Fur in the Hickory (1953)
      (pp. 66-70)
      Billy C. Clark

      “You can talk about that new repeating rifle of yours all you want,” the old man said to the boy as they made their way up the slope of the hill toward the ridge where the shagbark hickories grew. “It’s your gun and only natural that you ought to have some feeling for it. But me? When I go for squirrel I aim to put meat on the table. You don’t see me carrying a repeating rifle, either. I take my old musket. Been with me a long time. Went through the war together. Brought a brag once from General...

    • The Gift (1957)
      (pp. 71-79)
      Janice Holt Giles

      Nearly every day she went out to the big gate and waited for him to come swinging home across the prairie. She climbed to the post and sat there patiently, her hands folded in her lap.

      She was a round, apple-cheeked little girl, not very tall for eight. But when she waited for Jeff to come home, she felt slender and tall and fair like a princess. She waited like a princess, quietly and decorously, in her tower atop the gatepost.

      If he had been to the lower range, he would come into sight on the rim of the prairie...

    • The Fourth at Getup (1960)
      (pp. 80-86)
      A.B. Guthrie Jr.

      It was the Fourth of July there in Getup, Montana, and we had just had a parade that everyone said was pretty good even if a little long on ranch machinery and saddle stock and short on fancy works.

      The rodeo would come later. Now people were just milling around, shouting hello and having some horseplay the way they do when they are feeling free and easy. Everyone in the county was there—ranchers and ranch hands, dude wranglers, bronc stampers, townspeople, men, women and children. They crowded the sidewalks and spilled out into the street and laughed and yelled...

  6. 1960–1980

    • The Vireo’s Nest (1960)
      (pp. 89-100)
      Hollis Summers

      The rustic slab at the entrance to the camp said Artist’s Colony of Kentucky. On either side of the wordKentuckystood a stylized mountain. The sign had been painted in neat thin letters by a girl who, ten years later, was given a show at the Mexican-American Cultural Institute as well as the Sharonville Public Library. That is why Dr. Thornton, the founder and director of the colony, kept the sign. Even though the artists were all writers now, they didn’t mind being called artists. They frequently talked about the girl who had painted the sign, although few could...

    • The Little-Known Bird of the Inner Eye (1961)
      (pp. 101-109)
      Ed McClanahan

      He does not know that I exist. Or if he does, he must see me the way a wild canary sees a bird-watcher, through the big end of the field glasses, a tiny thing a million miles away, while the canary becomes, to the watcher, enormous, framed in a double-vision circle bigger than the earth.

      But once he did. For three whole days he knew me, and we even almost talked once.

      I am again on that street for the first time. It is one of those warm, gray Northwest fall days that bear with them a feeling of rain,...

    • Bare Bones (1965)
      (pp. 110-117)
      Sallie Bingham

      Lilly Morrison had been divorced for almost a year. In the beginning she had wanted it, impatient of delays, as though the divorce were her reward for three years of marriage. But when the reward fell due and she was finally alone, she almost regretted it. Not him—she seldom thought of him, her gentle, dark husband. Him she did not even miss. But for a long time she felt lost without the life he had provided for her. There was suddenly so much space around her, there were such lengths of time, and her efforts to do something about...

    • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (1967)
      (pp. 118-144)
      Robert Hazel

      Here comes Hampden now, on his way to kill me. He staggers past Minetta’s Tavern, the long red and white banner of the Gaslight Cafe, the green oval sign of the Kettle of Fish. Now Rienzi’s Coffee House with its disarrayed chessboards and miscegenous couples drooped in the scummed windows, and the Funky Antique Shop. And now the Folklore Center where a crowd of students have collected, filling the steps and eddying out to the old granite curb of MacDougal Street: young partisans of Joan Baez and mourners of Medgar Evers, with their guitars, wearing jeans, boots and checkered flannel...

    • Play Like I’m Sheriff (1968)
      (pp. 145-153)
      Jack Cady

      Sunset lay behind the tall buildings like red and yellow smoke. The cloud cover was high. Shadows of the buildings fell across the circle that was the business center of downtown Indianapolis. The towering monument to war dead was bizarre against the darkening horizon. On it figures writhed in frozen agony, except when they caught the corner of his eye. Then they seemed to move, reflecting his own pain.

      About the circle a thousand people hurried. The winter cold was nondirectional as the circle enclosed the wind and channeled it here and there. The temperature was nearly freezing. Lights in...

    • The Taste of Ironwater (1969)
      (pp. 154-161)
      Jim Wayne Miller

      “Remember the time old Haskill Bayes made that wagon with bicycle wheels?” L.C. said. “Run us off Stringtown Hill through that bob-war fence, like to killed us? I don’t believe kids down home has fun like that anymore. Shoot! there ain’t hardly any kids in Wolf Pen anymore, you know, Buddy?”

      “That’s right,” Buddy said without looking up from the interlocking wet rings he was making on the bar with his glass. He had been sitting there when somebody behind him had hollered “Buddy!” and slapped him on the back so hard he’d wanted to turn around and coldcock whoever...

    • The World’s One Breathing (1970)
      (pp. 162-178)
      David Madden

      McLain wakes. The motor is idling, the bus is shuddering, and he is startled to see old men rising from seats in the front. “Could have wiped out every one of them,” says the driver, “in a single swipe.” Three seats behind him, McLain rises to look through the front window. “They must belivingright.”


      “Almost to Truckston.”

      “Why are we stopping?”

      “Ask whoever’s driving that rolling whorehouse.”

      McLain sees now that the bus has stopped alongside an outmoded mauve Cadillac that straddles the double yellow line, the wipers still flapping, the headlights dimming out. Five...

    • White Rat (1975)
      (pp. 179-185)
      Gayl Jones

      I learned where she was when Cousin Willie come down home and said Maggie sent for her but told her not to tell nobody where she was, especially me, but Cousin Willie come and told me anyway cause she said I was the lessen two evils and she didn’t like to see Maggie stuck up in the room up there like she was. I asked her what she mean like she was. Willie said that she was pregnant by J.T.J.T. the man she run off with because she said I treat her like dirt. And now Willie say J.T. run...

    • The Affair with Rachel Ware (1976)
      (pp. 186-193)
      Jane Stuart

      The problems all began with the woman next door, and they shouldn’t have. That is, there shouldn’t have been any problems, because life was just like that. Men and women, birds and bees. Springtime and the fancies of a first love always passed. After that came the summer, and, when people loved then, you just didn’t talk about it. You assumed that they were old enough to know what they were doing and you left them alone. You didn’t point your finger at the woman next door, and snicker. You didn’t wink knowingly at that woman’s neighbor, either, implying that...

    • Maxine (1977)
      (pp. 194-198)
      Gurney Norman

      Maxine had ridden the bus eleven hours, from Detroit to Blaine, Kentucky, and by the time her cousin Wilgus met her at the station she was exhausted. She was a little hysterical too after the week she’d just spent with her daughter Cindy, so at the edge of town Wilgus went in a liquor store and bought Maxine a bottle of Mogen David to drink as he drove her home.

      “Cindy was living in the dingiest goddamn hotel I ever seen,” said Maxine. “No windows, no bathroom, no nothing. Damn baby due. Had three dollars when I got there. And...

    • Rent Control (1979)
      (pp. 199-206)
      Walter Tevis

      “My God,” Edith said, “that was the mostrealexperience of my life.” She put her arms around him, put her cheek against his naked chest, and pulled him tightly to her. She was crying.

      He was crying too. “Me too, darling,” he said, and held his arms around her. They were in the loft bed of her studio apartment on the East Side. They had just had orgasms together. Now they were sweaty, relaxed, blissful. It had been a perfect day.

      Their orgasms had been foreshadowed by their therapy. That evening, after supper, they had gone to Harry’s group...

  7. 1980–2000

    • Residents and Transients (1982)
      (pp. 209-216)
      Bobbie Ann Mason

      Since my husband went away to work in Louisville, I have, to my surprise, taken a lover. Stephen went ahead to start his new job and find us a suitable house. I’m to follow later. He works for one of those companies that require frequent transfers, and I agreed to that arrangement in the beginning, but now I do not want to go to Louisville. I do not want to go anywhere.

      Larry is our dentist. When I saw him in the post office earlier in the summer, I didn’t recognize him at first, without his smock and drills. But...

    • Yours (1982)
      (pp. 217-221)
      Joe Ashby Porter

      You remember we used to talk about traveling in Kentucky and seeing my father’s birthplace. I was in the mountains and I’ve been here in Bardstown for a week. The hotel is 130 years old and parts of the town are beautiful.

      Today for breakfast I walked to a café in the business district: worn linoleum, a juke box, “Vera” and “Connie” according to their badges, the establishment’s first dollar framed between an inspection certificate and “If you’re so Smart/Why aren’t youRich?”in faded Day-Glow green. Feisty little Vera gave me an inquisitive smile. I’m off newspapers for the...

    • A Fellow Making Himself Up (1982)
      (pp. 222-227)
      Leon V. Driskell

      What uncle Lester liked most about Rosco was that he had named himself, and Lester thought he had picked the perfect name. He did not look like a Ralph, or Robert, or Rupert, but exactly like a Rosco. Audrey said she did not think it was so great to be named Rosco, for she could not think of a single movie star, or even TV personality, withthatname. Uncle Lester admitted that Rosco had not exactly named himself all the way, for he had started out with what his parents had decided to call him, which was R.P. White....

    • Winter Facts (1983)
      (pp. 228-236)
      Mary Ann Taylor-Hall

      She had come in August. Now it was November. She had started a wall with rocks that she dug out of the garden plot. As she got more serious about it, she had her friends bring them to her by the wagonload—rocks were one thing everybody had plenty of out here. Now the wall was maybe forty feet long, two feet high, solid, regular, sloping as the land sloped, between the back lawn and the vegetable garden.

      She called it the vegetable garden, though she hadn’t planted anything in it yet, and had serious doubts that anything could grow...

    • The Fugitive (1984)
      (pp. 237-250)
      Richard Cortez Day

      Matthew Furman wore the look of a man whose house has been taken over by skunks. He sat in his pickup, glaring through the rain at the cabin. His neck hurt. Thirst pinched his throat. “Dammit,” he said, and started the engine. He backed around in the clearing, pointed the truck toward town, and said, “Dammit to hell.” He raised his head and looked at himself in the mirror. In the matted hair, the cheeks caved in and bristly with three days’ stubble—in the eyes red-rimmed and with a network of veins in the whites—he saw the face...

    • The Perfecting of the Chopin Valse No. 14 in E Minor (1985)
      (pp. 251-258)
      Sena Jeter Naslund

      One day last summer when I was taking a shower, I heard my mother playing the ChopinValse No. 14 in E Minorbetter than she ever had played it before. Thirty years ago in Birmingham, I had listened to her while I sat on dusty terra cotta tiles on the front porch. I was trying to pluck a thorn from my heel as I listened, and I remember looking up from my dirty foot to see the needle of a hummingbird entering one midget blossom after another, the blossoms hanging like froth on our butterfly bush. Probably she had...

    • Diary of a Union Soldier (1985)
      (pp. 259-269)
      Pat Carr

      Dead branches were scraping so resolutely across the roof that it was only when the wind slackened that the thud of the cannons echoed up from the grove. But even as she heard the muted guns, she didn’t associate them with an actual engagement, and when she saw him at the steps, not having heard him crash through the woods, just seeing him appear in silence at the porch, she didn’t realize that he’d come from a battle.

      He put out a hand toward the post for support, and she could tell he was hurt, and perhaps that was why...

    • That Distant Land (1986)
      (pp. 270-278)
      Wendell Berry

      For several days after the onset of his decline, my grandfather’s mind seemed to leave him to go wandering, lost, in some foreign place. It was a dream he was in, we thought, that he could not escape. He was looking for the way home, and he could not find anyone who knew how to get there.

      “No,” he would say. “Port William. Port William is the name of the place.”

      Or he would ask, “Would you happen to know a nice lady by the name of Margaret Feltner? She lives in Port William. Now, which way would I take...

    • If You Can’t Win (1986)
      (pp. 279-286)
      James Baker Hall

      “You oughtn’t to feed Old Blue candy bars,” my husband has told Peggy, a hundred times, showing her how to hold an ear of corn in one hand and work the kernels off into the other. “See? How easy it is?” Over and over he went through each step, showing her how to hold the kernels out in the palm of her hand, just so. “He won’t bite. It feels real good. Try it. Old Blue won’t bite.”

      I know something is up when I stop by the station a little after noon and find it locked, his TEMPORARILY CLOSED...

    • Bypass (1987)
      (pp. 287-297)
      Lisa Koger

      Friday night and Earl has a taste for chicken. The craving slipped up on him, fox-like, sometime late in the afternoon. Tonight, he doesn’t want Ruth’s Crispy or Wanda’s Golden Fried or chicken from any of the other joints in town. He doesn’t want chain-food chicken from one of those bright new places on the bypass, either. It scares him to eat at places where there are signs that tell him billions have eaten the same thing. There’s more than safety in numbers, he knows.

      What he really has a taste for is home-fried chicken. The kind his mother made....

    • Homeland (1989)
      (pp. 298-311)
      Barbara Kingsolver

      My great-grandmother belonged to the Bird Clan. Hers was one of the fugitive bands of Cherokee who resisted capture in the year that General Winfield Scott was in charge of prodding the forest people from their beds and removing them westward. Those few who escaped his notice moved like wildcat families through the Carolina mountains, leaving the ferns unbroken where they passed, eating wild grapes and chestnuts, drinking when they found streams. The ones who could not travel, the aged and the infirm and the very young, were hidden in deep cane thickets where they would remain undiscovered until they...

    • Dr. Livingston’s Grotto (1989)
      (pp. 312-322)
      Normandi Ellis

      One day while Dr. Livingston’s wife sat inside their air-conditioned, ranch style house and while Dr. Livingston clomped in muddied boots about the garden, staking his tomato plants with Mrs. Livingston’s worn out panty hose, the ground in their back yard opened up, trembling a little, then yawned like a mouth, so that when Dr. Livingston turned toward the house, carrying his aluminum pie tin of ripe Better Boy tomatoes, he stepped unknowingly into the hole, and the earth surrounding it crumbled. He fell, slipping into the small, fresh cave, and disappeared without a sound.

      It was a gentle fall,...

    • Belinda’s World Tour (1993)
      (pp. 323-327)
      Guy Davenport

      A little girl, hustled into her pram by an officious nurse, discovered halfway home from the park that her doll Belinda had been left behind. The nurse had finished her gossip with the nurse who minced with one hand on her hip, and had had a good look at the grenadiers in creaking boots who strolled in the park to eye and give smiling nods to the nurses. She had posted a letter and sniffed at various people. Lizaveta had tried to talk to a little boy who spoke only a soft gibberish, had kissed and been kissed by a...

    • The Way It Felt to Be Falling (1993)
      (pp. 328-340)
      Kim Edwards

      The summer I turned nineteen I used to lie in the backyard and watch the planes fly overhead, leaving their clean plumes of jet-stream in a pattern against the sky. It was July, yet the grass had a brown fringe and leaves were already falling, borne on the wind like discarded paper wings. The only thing that flourished that summer was the recession; businesses, lured by lower tax rates, moved south in a steady progression. My father had left too, but in a more subtle and insidious way—after his consulting firm failed, he had simply retreated into some silent...

    • The Idea of It (1995)
      (pp. 341-349)
      Chris Holbrook

      I tell my boy stories about growing up here. I ask him whether he wouldn’t like a pony, like I had when I was his age. He says he’d rather have a motorcycle, one he could ride down to Florida. We’re on the hillside above the cow pasture. The tin roof of the barn flashes sunlight at us whenever the cloud cover breaks.

      “Florida is hot in August,” I say.

      “So is Kentucky,” he replies.

      We’ve cleared the brush around the house and barn lot, but the pasture is still thick with horse weeds, poison ivy, kudzu and sprouts of...

    • Clouds (1996)
      (pp. 350-358)
      Paul Griner

      I know all about clouds: cumulus, stratus, nimbostratus, cumulonimbus. It doesn’t take much water to make most of them. A small summer cumulus a few hundred yards to a side holds no more than twenty-five or thirty gallons of water, not quite enough to fill a bathtub. Years ago, my wife miscarried. I still remember the bright triangle of blood on the back of her nightdress. Fourteen months later she delivered a boy at Rochester General, dead at birth. I never saw him, and we didn’t give him a funeral. I never asked, but I believe stillborn babies are simply...

    • Barred Owl (1996)
      (pp. 359-367)
      Chris Offutt

      Seven years ago I got divorced and left Kentucky, heading west. I made the Mississippi River in one day, and it just floored me how big it was. I watched the water until sundown. It didn’t seem like a river, but a giant brown muscle instead. Two days later, my car threw a rod and I settled in Greeley, Colorado. Nobody in my family has lived this far off our home hill.

      I took a job painting dorm rooms at the college here in town. The pay wasn’t the best, but I could go to work hungover and nobody bugged...

    • Deferment (1998)
      (pp. 368-383)
      Dwight Allen

      In the summer of 1970, I spent a lot of time trying to get a girl named Lizzie Burford to sleep with me. I had the idea that we would do it at the Goshen Motor Court, out on U.S. 42, near the county line. We’d lie in each other’s arms and shiver as the air conditioner blew and the sweat on our skin dried. I was nineteen, a year older than Lizzie, and I thought about motels the way I later thought about churches: as places you could disappear into and lose yourself. I thought of the Goshen in...

    • Humming Back Yesterday (1999)
      (pp. 384-390)
      Crystal E. Wilkinson

      Aberdeen Copeland was bringing yesterday back from twenty years of hiding. Bringing it back in slow motion. Never mattered where she was, what she was doing—weeding the garden, shopping in the corner store, making love to her Clovis, cooking beets, kneading bread dough—it could come anytime.

      She was stirring the soup beans, beginning to wash the dishes. The water was hot, stinging her arms clean up to the elbows. It just came over her again. Came back in still life. A camera taking pictures.

      Click. A teenaged Aberdeen in a purple wraparound dress with little green flowers. A...

    • Afterword
      (pp. 391-396)
      Charles E. May

      My introduction to Kentucky writers occurred in the summer of 1960, when, after graduating from high school in the small Appalachian town of Paintsville, Kentucky, I received a scholarship to attend Albert Stewart’s Writers’ Workshop at Morehead State College. Real authors were there—folks like Jane Mayhall, Robert Hazel, and James Still—authors who read and talked about their work, and wonder of wonders, read my work too.

      Al Stewart, who later founded the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School, has been one of the strongest supporters of writers in the mountains for almost half a century, and...

  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 397-400)