While male novelists have wrung great fictional themes out of the South's racial guilt and 1865 defeat, its female writers--Flannery O' Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, for example--have usually had other local fish to fry.
Succeeding this earlier distaff Southern Renaissance, the last 20 years have seen not only Southern belles climbing off the high pedestal but also blue-collar or black daughters climbing the social ladder; and writers from both groups have met midway in one of the liveliest creative hen parties of sisterhood in American literature. These writers understand more about the Sun Belt than the Bible Belt. Lee Smith, Bobbie Ann Mason, Louise Shivers, Lisa Alther, Toni Cade Bambara, and Rita Mae Brown are among those depicting characters whose link to the Confederacy has worn thinner than it finally did between Rhett and Scarlet. Add to those contemporaries the talented Mary Hood of Woodstock, Ga., whose first volume of stories won awards from the Southern Review and Louisiana State University, and whose new collection of seven stories and the title novella is beautifully written, with regional characters who turn out to be universal.
No minimalist, Hood's forte is a story lasting long enough in time to allow people to come alive, interact, change, and then stabilize. "After Moore" covers 15 hard years which turn a girl into a likable woman, and make an infatuation a genuine love story in spite of itself. "Nobody's Fool," a father-daughter story which suggests Flannery O'Connor's old man Tanner in "Judgment Day" but more gently, blends cantankerousness thoroughly into individuality until we know what death will make us grieve for.