I’ve longed admired the works of Southern authors such as Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner, probably because I was raised in a rural area of the South. The places, characters, and dialect seem familiar, and my favorite storytelling revolves around their same concept of the world. I enjoy working with character sketches, searching for the hidden side that “normal” people want to keep hidden. For some time I have been working on a story with a couple of eccentric characters dealing with a disturbing circumstance that happened in my hometown in the early 20th century. As I wrote the story I kept wrestling with the flow, that push-back that only an invented character can give. More and more, the story felt as if brevity were its essence, that the mystery should be hinted at, but never explicitly revealed. You’ll find that story in Love Rides the Dirt Roads.
The Car Salesman felt different, with the idea arriving to me one morning while watching a local car commercial, one when the salesman practically shouts to his sleepy 7:00 A.M. audience – as if there’s nothing more important to him than that sale, giving you the best deal that you’ll ever have. It’s a short-short, with a theme aiming toward the things we value, the importance of balance. Is there anything more important to a car salesman than the next deal?
I’m the same as many writers, daydreaming about writing the great American novel. But then I think about my literary heroes and how their short stories have influenced me, and I begin to envision these stories as possibly worthy of their own standing, without a need to grow into a novella or something more. Having said that, I have been encouraged to develop these characters, these people, and I may do that. I call them people because I see them there, doing what they must, what they were always destined to do. Eudora Welty’s Phoenix Jackson will forever keep walking that worn path to the doctor, and O’Connor’s murderous Misfit will never gain grace or redemption.
So it is with my people. Someday I may develop these characters and see how they lived out the rest of their lives, but for now I want to set them out on the front porch as short stories, to see who waves and says How are y’all doing? These stories features snake handling, murder, used cars, and forgotten romance, and they somehow seem perfectly normal to me. They’re available on Amazon only as e-books, at the low, low price of one Yankee dollar. I hope that you enjoy Love Rides the Dirt Roads and The Car Salesman.