Review

by Ellen Gilchrist

Ellen Gilchrist has done more for the short story than any
other writer since Flannery O'Connor. Her special blend of grit,
humor, and everyday insanity has kept up with the times and brought
America's changing lifestyle in direct contact with the continuing
characters about whom she has written over the years. COLLECTED
STORIES is a fabulous book, a must for all short-story
lovers.

Gilchrist is a southern writer of the first degree. In stories like
"1944" (which has such a great opening sentence: "When I was eight
years old, I had a piano made of martini glasses") and "The Famous
Poll at Jody's Bar," she finds the individual voices of wonderfully
droll and naturalistic characters and converges them into a great
and powerful roar of humanity. This collection is made up of gems
from seven different books, and it is a great tribute to her power
as a writer that she is able to meld together, throughout the
years, various characters and story lines. There is a real
consistency here that you rarely find in a story collection --- it
is made even more remarkable by the fact that, even as her craft
has improved, her heart-and-soul approach to storytelling has
always been front and center in all her works.

I usually get sick of short stories after a while and never have
the ability to finish a collection, but that was not a problem
here. Gilchrist is a star of American literature, and this only
serves to certify that fact for the 21st century. I can't wait to
see what she does next.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 24, 2011


by Ellen Gilchrist