Jewish World Review March 9, 2010 / 23 Adar 5770
Barry Hannah Dead at 67
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "The canned dream of the South is something I've resisted my entire career; it disgusts me. And being Southern isn't always a graceful adjective; it'll kill you sometimes. Often, it's shorthand for 'Don't bother reading this because it's just gonna be a lot of porches and banjos.' "
"[W]hat interests novelists in these peculiar times, or at least this novelist, and what they are mainly good for, is not such large subjects as God, man and the world, but rather what he perceives as fault lines in the terrain, small clues that something strange is going on, a telltale sign here and there. … [S]ane people seem to him a little crazy and crazy people a little knowledgeable a little like the movie "The Body Snatchers," where everybody looks and acts normal, except that they are not but no one notices, except the poor novelist."
It isn't often you turn the page to the obituaries and burst into one big, indecorous smile. After all, someone has just died. It's supposed to be a sad occasion, and indeed it is. The country and particularly this bountiful, blessed and more than slightly bizarre part of ithas just lost a master of the dwindling art of the short story. At the entirely too young age of 67. Though whenever we'd lost
But there was no repressing it. After a short sigh there came the widest grin. Because he was that kind of writer,
There were times when, reading one of his stories, you just had to read a passage out loud to somebody, even if you had to phone an old friend in the middle of the night. And if you couldn't read it to somebody else, you'd just laugh yourself silly, or find yourself going Ye-e-e-s! As if you were affirming the preacher's message at a black church.
And then, in the next paragraph, you'd experience one of those shocks of recognition that paralyzes you all the way down to your toes. As when you open a book at a random page and read: "Since he had returned from Korea he and his wife lived in mutual disregard, which turned three times a month into animal passion then diminished on the sharp incline to hatred, at last collecting in time into silent equal fatigue."
And that's just the first sentence of one of his stories. ("Get Some Young" in his collection, "High Lonesome.") The man didn't let go. Like the best vintage from a small country,
Naturally he professed in
Naturally he drank. And gave it up. Again and again. He started wild and mellowed, but he stayed funny and startlingly wise. ("The old guys are me now, is the horror. I'll wander up and get registered and vote.")
The professional Southerner is the curse of the writing class.
Wherever he is now, here's hoping
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
if (strpos(, "printer_friendly") === 0)
=<< © 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.