Good Short Fiction Set in Kentucky?
May 15, 2011 8:34 AM   Subscribe

I like short fiction with a strong sense of place. I particularly like reading said fiction while visiting its setting. I'm going to be in Kentucky soon. What might I want to read while I'm there?
posted by .kobayashi. to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Wendell Berry
posted by bricoleur at 8:46 AM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bobbie Ann Mason has some short stories set there.
posted by gerryblog at 9:26 AM on May 15, 2011

Elmore Leonard's Fire in the Hole. The FX TV show Justified is based on this novella and it is set in Harlan County, KY.
posted by mmascolino at 9:35 AM on May 15, 2011

2nding Bobbie Ann Mason.
posted by timsteil at 10:32 AM on May 15, 2011

I enjoyed this collection of short stories. It's arranged chronologically and it's got a good bit of variety. Tales from Kentucky Lawyers was also a fun read, though obviously (mostly) non-fiction.

(Side note: Hunter S. Thompson was raised in Louisville. If you're a fan, you may enjoy this short piece he wrote about the Kentucky Derby.)
posted by pecanpies at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2011

Thanks all! Given my tastes, it looks like Wendell Berry was who I was looking for most. But feel free to keep answers coming.
posted by .kobayashi. at 1:01 PM on May 15, 2011

Yes, I was going to recommend Wendell Berry after just your first sentence; the rest of the question clinched it, obviously. You might particularly like That Distant Land.
posted by librarina at 3:56 PM on May 15, 2011

Even better than Wendell Berry for a wonderful sense of place in modern Kentucky (rather than Berry's idealized Kentucky): Holly Goddard Jones's Girl Trouble. Amazing stories, and especially good if you might be in Bowling Green or points west.
I've loved Wendell Berry for years, but for my money--I grew up in Kentucky and still live here--no one captures the Commonwealth better than Jones, plus they're just remarkable pieces of fiction.
posted by jkinkade at 4:27 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not sure where you're going in Kentucky, but Wendell Berry's family owns a winery that's worth a visit if you're in the area. No, not particularly good wine - we just can't produce that in Kentucky - but a fun side trip nonetheless.
posted by pecanpies at 4:38 PM on May 15, 2011

If you are going to be in Eastern Kentucky, you might try to find a book by Jesse Stuart. His stories are not contemporary (he was writing in the early 20th century), but they are well written.
posted by Slothrop at 4:51 PM on May 15, 2011

An update: The Wendell Berry volume is charming, and I'm so glad I brought it with me. But, my goodness, Holly Goddard Jones' book was a revelation. It was, as jkinkade said, very much of its place. But much much more than that too; it was precise and wise and tapped into some very universal very human thing. Definitely worth a read for anyone interested in contemporary short fiction.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:47 AM on May 30, 2011

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