Jesus in the Mist: Stories

Jesus in the Mist: Stories

Jesus in the Mist: Stories

Jesus in the Mist: Stories


This title includes fourteen darkly comic and artfully crafted Deep South tales in the spirit of O'Connor. turn out all right, but not them about people, muses a character in Ruffin's yarn of obsession and quest In Search of the Tightrope Walker. Raging against this fated sadness - and often against a deadening and inescapable status quo - the characters in Ruffin's newest collection, Jesus in the Mist, populate an imaginative vision of the hardscrabble Deep South where history, culture, and expectations are set firmly against them. Like Flannery O'Connor before him, Ruffin views the South as dark with humor and rife with violence. He writes of places and times where religion, race, class, sex, abuse, poverty, mythology, and morbidity coalesce to expose humanity at its basest and its most redeeming. comedy that define Ruffin's work, these stories paint a panoramic view of southern culture as dynamic characters take a stab at their destinies - and sometimes at each other. Whether they are facing the visage of Christ in a motel bathroom mirror, blasting crows with military-grade artillery, outrunning a mythical beast through moonlit woods, or taking an armed stance against integration at a gas station water fountain, many of Ruffin's characters are zealots on the edge of reason. But there are those as well who search for a lost childhood love, exorcise a sexual predator from the home, return to a discarded life, and spare a man's life when no one would be the wiser. These individuals long for restoration, redemption, and righteousness. hold equal sway and no amount of sadness can keep yearned-for possibilities from still being perceived as attainable.


“Talmidge,” she said across the living room to her husband, who was stretched out on the couch with his camouflage clothes still on from a deer hunt earlier that Saturday morning—it wasn’t quite eleven. He was in his socked feet, muddy boots just outside the kitchen door, where she asked that he always leave them. White shag did not clean up easily. He stirred at her voice but did not open his eyes.


Then he did open an eye and even turned his head a bit toward her.

She had been sitting a long time staring at the Christmas tree in general and at a great frosty blue ornament in particular, almost four inches across, hand blown and therefore not quite round but close enough that no one could tell without close inspection. It had been her mother’s favorite over the years, passed down for four generations, probably the oldest one she had and the dearest to her. It even had its special velvet-lined box that a snow globe had come in.

“Whu-ut?” he finally said.

She slowly rotated her head in his direction until her eyes met the one that he had open.

“Talmidge, how far can you throw a softball?”

He turned his head back in alignment with his body, which looked all the world to her like a great mound of leaves raked up to haul off or burn.

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