Vol. 22, No. 3: 21c Fiction Issue

Vol. 22, No. 3: 21c Fiction Issue

New stories by Robert Gipe, Minrose Gwin, Odie Lindsey, Mesha Maren, Julia Ridley Smith, and Crystal Wilkinson. Plus: Grit Lit and authenticity, Padgett Powell’s “queer rednecks,” Monique Truong’s challenges to southern authority and subjectivity, Daniel Wallace’s “lesser-known 21st-century authors,” and a Round Table discussion that finally lays that dead mule of southern lit to rest.

Front Porch: 21c Fiction

by Harry L. Watson

“In this Newest South, novels about tragic mulattoes or doomed aristocrats seem hopelessly out of place, and some writers and critics now speak boldly of “post-southern” literature. At the very least, it’s time to take a look at twenty-first-century southern fiction.”

Lesser-Known 21st-Century Southern Writers

by Daniel Wallace

"The only way he could be lesser-known is if he had never existed at all."

Reading 21st-Century Southern Fiction

by Patrick E. Horn

“Standard descriptions of what makes southern literature and culture distinctive (if not ‘exceptional’) are by now familiar to most bibliophiles . . . But such symbols of southernness are fraught with stereotypes, and they rarely tell the whole story.”

Weedeater: Chapter 1

by Robert Gipe

"I turned and looked out the car window at a cornfield, at a yard full of scrap lumber and rusted car tops, at the hillsides so full of green they looked almost blue. There was a lot to appreciate. I wished I could."

Mrs. DeVry, Why Do You Cry?

by Julia Ridley Smith

“And the Oracle sayeth, with serious impatience, ‘I have many people to see, Mrs. DeVry. What is your question?’ Mrs. DeVry said, ‘What should my question be?’”

The Deader Mule

by Southern Cultures

"Is there a 'quality of southernness' in 21st-century southern fiction?" Selections from our author roundtable in the forthcoming 21st-Century Fiction issue follow.


by Crystal Wilkinson

This story first appeared in our 21c Fiction Issue (vol. 22, no. 3: Fall 2016).

The Girl Who Went Away

by Minrose Gwin

“There is one thing I haven’t told.”


by Mesha Maren

This story first appeared in the 21c Fiction Issue (vol. 23, no. 3: Fall 2016).

So Bored in Nashville

by Odie Lindsey

“What else is there to do but follow history? Men go to war to be men worth a damn. Their statues and movies are everywhere, forever.”

“Queer Rednecks”: Padgett Powell’s Manly South

by John Moran

“In the predominantly working-class and sometimes rural spaces where Powell’s straight and gay characters cavort together, shoot the shit, or knock each other to the ground, homophobia can exist alongside friendliness and hospitality toward gays, and anti-homophobia can reinforce patriarchy.”

“One of Us”: Monique Truong’s Bitter in the Mouth and the Twenty-First-Century Southern Novel

by Justin Mellette

“‘My first memory was a taste. For most of my life I have carried this fact with me not as a mystery, which it still is, but as a secret.’”

Romanticizing the Rough South: Contemporary Cultural Nakedness and the Rise of Grit Lit

by Zackary Vernon

“The Rough South offers either the illusion of being clothed culturally, if one identifies with the characters of this literature, or an escape to the ‘real South’ . . . if one believes that the working class retains an authenticity that has been largely flattened in the middle and upper classes.”


by Atsuro Riley

“Bright breath of the lamp that lamps our night. Our dirt.”

I Never Believed in the Perfect Mother

by Dorothy Allison

"I think it’s a criminal thing we do to girls, creating this notion of the ideal mother."

Other People’s Pets

by Fred J. Porter

"He had possessed an expectation of bigger and better things than working in a dog kennel back home and being in an ambiguous lukewarm relationship after college."