"Southern fiction is alive and kicking and going off in all kinds of directions as this old century staggers to an end." To prove their audacious pronouncement, George Garrett and Paul Ruffin have assembled thirty-one stories representing the best of recent Southern fiction. These stories weave together themes that underscore what being Southern is all about: the retelling of the past, the uncertainty of the future, the haunting presence of racial guilt, the inescapable influence of family - for better or worse, the struggle for survival, and the tragedy and humor of Southern life. As Fred Chappell writes in introducing these works: "Southern literature is almost as legendary a part of Southern history as the battles and politics." Born of a Texas Review competition to honor outstanding new writing, the collection snowballed as Garrett and Ruffin realized that Southern fiction of the 1990s merits a gathering all its own. The contributors hail from nearly every Southern state - Texas to Virginia; their subjects span the world; their styles fit no defined formulas; their works both praise and parody the literary legacy of their forebears. Some writers are well known while others are virtually unknown. Only two stories have appeared in previous collections. Unified by excellence as much as by region, these works comprise the most representative, comprehensive, and entertaining collection of short Southern fiction to be published in decades.