The Critical Response to Eudora Welty's Fiction

By Laurie Champion | Go to book overview

Miss Welty Magnificent in Newest Short Pieces

Frank Hains

This is Eudora Welty's seventh volume and it contains seven stories. But that's coincident. It would have been her sixth and it would have contained eight had not "THE PONDER HEART" assumed such proportions and such significance that her publishers dissuaded her from including it in this book.

It's fortunate that they did, for the separately published story of the Ponders won Miss Welty the coveted William Dean Howells award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Even more important is the fact that now these other seven magnificent short pieces can stand on their own and out of the Ponder shadow.

Miss Welty regrets that there is no truly, as she puts it, "funny story" in this collection -- that was to have been "THE PONDER HEART."

It doesn't need it.

There are in these stories warmth and tenderness and humor-along with the terrible underthreads which weave their occasional dark designs into Miss Welty's work.

Each creates its own particular mood; each is, in effect, a mood.

Miss Welty's every line is characterized by an awareness, an insight, that never reports as much as it reveals.

She says herself that she considers plot secondary to feeling.

Her work is singular in the overallness of its effect; lines taken out of context seldom carry much impact. but there is a remarkable unity in each piece that slips over the reader's perception -- rather like a tea cozy.

In "No Place for You, My Love," the first story in the collection, it's impossible not to feel the sultry oppression of a summer Sunday evening on the gulf coast; not to be permeated by the heat and steaminess, not to be contained in the humid, angry frustration.

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