Works in Progress

Path to bridge in woods

 

Southernmost Troublesome: Stories from the Molten Heart of Appalachia

Like I said, when you say Southern, you hardly need to say Gothic. Southern Gothic is a style of storytelling sometimes seen a chronicle of the grotesque—a circus sideshow with the Tattooed Strong Man, Little Eeka the snake eater, and the Fattest Woman Alive. But, truly this narrative style is an inquiry about how Little Eeka got to be in that sideshow.

See in my home town, if you sneeze, someone hands you a handkerchief. But who is that someone? Are they watching, studying the tilt of your head and tone of voice? Are they exerting an elusive pressure to make sure that you stay within an invisible, shimmering wall? Yet sometimes just being female, just being black, Mexican, or if say, you like your martini with a twist, you can find yourself else outside that wall. The need for community and one’s own longings can create a crucible of battling impulses, torn between a desire to belong and a need to be wholly oneself. A conflict arises between your townsfolk, whom you need like your very mother, and the heinousness of having to hide to fit into a society that represents a moral code, but which is, in fact, a confining white-hot template. Rebelling, one risks judgment and exile; submitting to the status quo, one feels suffocated. Caught an external gaze, one is stripped of privacy and anonymity. When temptation forces an individual into hiding, desires take root in shadow. The bizarre situations which arise from this secrecy which can warp the character the way the sun warps the space around it. the essence of Southern Gothic.

I am currently completing a story collection set in the fictional town of Vance:

Who can understand the people of Vance, Kentucky? Some are proud rednecks who want to make America great, know Covid-19 is a Democratic hoax, brandish their assault weapons to defend the Second Amendment and their right not to wear a mask in Walmart, lynch their Democratic governor in effigy (on his front lawn), and know that Fox is the only source of actual facts about what is going on. Who can tell the stories of a group of white people who have so often been on the wrong side of history—the slave catchers, the overseers, the prison guards? Only a daughter of the town, who escaped (barely) to Boston where she found through Northern prejudice that she is indeed a redneck daughter of Vance, able to channel her town’s voices to a dismissive world.

© 2021 CD Collins