Local Souls

Local Souls

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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.

Title:Local Souls
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780871403797
Format Type:

    Local Souls Reviews

  • Rick

    Ugh. Could not finish even though I was 2/3 done. The author seemed more interested in impressing us with his ability to turn a phrase than he was with creating real characters or a story we could get...

  • William Reichard

    I was looking forward to this collection of novellas. I love the novella form and it's not easy to find writers who can work well in the form. I'd never read Gurganus before, so I didn't know his styl...

  • Carol

    Local Souls published on September 23rd. I read a review copy so some of my comments may not reflect the finished work. My sincere thanks to Liveright, W.w. Norton Publishing for providing the e-galle...

  • Sue

    This collection left me with many questions and wondering Why am I reading this? until I reached the third, and by far the longest, story, "Decoy". Here is where the author's agenda of "local souls" f...

  • Amy Warrick

    Three stars is too many, but two is too few. Anyway. The southern voice with which Gurganus charmed me in 'Oldest yadda yadda widow' turned overdone and cloying here. It's like Reynolds Price' (Pric...

  • Moira Crone

    Marvelous storytelling, compelling characters, beautiful language (its own, and it asks you to bring your whole self into the process of reading and understanding). Read this southern Book and be amaz...

  • robin friedman

    Not Mayberry RFDThe United States has been blessed with many southern writers who capture many aspects of the American South. Among the most recent of these writers is the North Carolina native Allan ...

  • Alice

    I liked this book a lot, but gave it only three stars. Here's why: In the first novella, I felt lost. I didn't understand the relationship of the couple at the high school play to the story that follo...

  • Eyehavenofilter

    I got this as an ARC and it neatly contains three odd and peculiar home town tales by the author of" The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All"... This time I think there's a bit too much... I fou...

  • Mum

    This review is difficult to write because the reasons to not like it are entirely accurate. By the end of the final novella, I realized the point of these stories was antithetical to most writing out ...