Anne Clinard Barnhill’s second book is a luscious anthology of original and previously published short stories.
Anne Clinard Barnhill’s second book is a luscious anthology of original and previously published short stories that serve up Southern fare with humor, heartbreak, and humanity. Most of the tales reveal women’s desires.
In “A Telephone Ministry,” for example, 67-year old Velma takes saucy revenge on her new vegan Episcopal priest when he shows little interest in her melt-in-your-mouth pound cake, the best in Lincolnton. And Sissy makes a difficult choice in “Confessions of a Fat Woman” between returning to the work she loves on her grandfather’s North Carolina farm and Gator, the only man who’s ever shown any interest in her.
From the loving elderly couple who bear through the trials of growing old together in “Washing Helen’s Hair,” to 44-year-old Barb dancing alone and naked through the house on her birthday in “Lucy and Ethel,” these stories also exude sensuality. They feature everyday people — an assistant librarian, a loan officer, an elementary school custodian, quilting bee members — with extraordinary lives and insights. Barnhill even includes a painful chapter from her memoir, At Home in the Land of Oz, about life with her autistic sister, before the disorder had a name.
The collection’s title is a fitting thread that weaves throughout the stories, as they bring to light the many things we all long for: love, sisterhood, self-acceptance, and simply being understood. It will inspire readers to revel in their own longings and plans to fulfill them.
Mint Hill Books, 2009. 186 pages, paperback, $14.95. Available at bookstores.