Bacopa Literary Review

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Monday, January 18, 2016

I Do Not Know Any Home

We're delighted to feature excerpts from Bacopa Literary Review 2015's First Place Fiction winner, Ellen Perry. Readers will find a hint about what to expect in Perry's prize-winning "Milk--Bread--Soft Drinks" with her beginning quote: 
I do not know any home. So why should I be homesick? (Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter)
Notice how Perry creates a strong sense of place with echoes of memories: 
Watching my clothes dry at a 24-hour laundromat in New York City, I eased myself into a corner seat near the window and took one sip of "Co-Cola," as my family back in south Georgia called it, and all of a sudden I was ten years old again, sitting on that wobbly bench outside Kincaid's Store, waiting for Mama to get off work at River Girls and take me to the fireworks. . . My mother, Ada Lee, gave birth to me when she was 17. My father was 18. . . "Your daddy used to could throw a baseball like they was no tomorrow," old Mr. Kincaid told me at his store when I asked about Dewey. . . I'd pay for my Coke and sit out front under the red and white "Milk--Bread--Soft Drinks" sign. . .

. . . everyone in town knew about River Girls, the bar and strip club down by the railroad tracks. . . At various times the church ladies (armed in Hamrick's pantsuits and tight, short perms) marched door-to-door to get signatures, trying to close down the "devil's juke joint." But River Girls stayed busy and. . . I was in heaven with all the store-bought clothes, TV shows, Bible stories, Cokes, and freedom until one day I noticed that Ada Lee had stopped laughing. . .
I like to think that my mother had argued with her boss at River Girls, stormed out of there and drove like crazy to get to me before the fireworks started, but I won't ever know. . . I stayed for a while with the Kincaids and then with Dewey, but his girlfriend said it wasn't working out so I moved to Athens to live with my grandparents. . . the only time I'd returned to Georgia was to attend Mr. Kincaid's funeral just before I finished school. I cried for days and swore I'd never go south again.

Then that laundromat Co-Cola sneaked up on me and tasted like home. It took me right back to the banks of the Altamaha where I first heard stories running smooth like the river and, on Independence Day, where I learned to make them up.
More stories by Ellen Perry:

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Gravel
"Divorce, $189: Fast and Affordable," Spank the Carp 
"I Wonder," The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature 
"Letters from Asheville & Beyond: A Fictional Journey into Western North Carolina" (blog series): Part One: "We Take 'Em All" and Part Two: Get on the Bus."
"Mature Adult Cat Chow," Wussy
"Customer Service," Deep South Magazine
"Derby Day," Finalist for A Room of Her Own Foundation's Orlando Prize for Short Fiction (Fall 2015)

Submissions open until June 30, 2016

2 comments:

  1. Ellen Perry has a voice FULL OF Southern authenticity. That's what makes this story work. That, plus the RHYTHMS of the sentences and the SIGNIFICANT DETAIL: the fizzing "Co-colas" from her Southern past (she forgot, however, to put the salted peanuts in the Cokes), the "tight short perms," the "devil's jukejoint," and some perfect sentences decked out in the South: "Your Daddy used to could thow a baseball like they was no tomorrow." I'm the fiction editor of "Bacopa." THOW ME SOME BASEBALLS LIKE THIS.

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  2. Thanks, Mr. Bowie. Salted peanuts, yeah! Appreciate your support.

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