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The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake

Pancake was a young Southern writer who killed himself before he could become a household name. I’d never heard of him until my roomate pressed his book into my hands. It’s a short collection of stories with a foreword and afterword by two of Pancake’s professors who both seem to have not come easily to terms with Pancake’s death. The stories he wrote are gripping and haunting tales of loss, denial and depression, mostly among the lower to middle class folks of Appalachia. Many of them are bleak, some are downright chilling in their absolute absence of hope. And yet, the characters have a three-dimensional quality that makes you care deeply about their petty squabbles and mental defects. Once I picked this book up, I could not put it down.