“My mother bore me in the southern wild,” wrote William Blake in his poem “The Little Black Boy.” Doris Betts borrows this phrase for her collection of short stories. Back in print at last, the nine beautifully crafted tales in Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories display Doris Betts at the top of her form: compassionate, witty, and unforgettable.
“The Ugliest Pilgrim” takes you into the adventures and into the heart of a disfigured young woman who has run away from her life in search of a better one. This award-winning story is the basis for the musical Violet, which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. In “Hitchhiker,” a wary secretary hitches a ride in a boat with a man hell-bent on saving fish; instead he saves her from the river — and herself. And in the title story, Betts brilliantly captures the inner life of a teacher and writer struggling to control her classroom, her household, and her life.