Marlin Barton has published two collections of short stories, The Dry Well and Dancing by the River, and two novels, A Broken Thing and The Cross Garden. His stories have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Shenandoah, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and The Best American Short Stories.
Book Title: Pasture Art
The short stories of Pasture Art, all set in towns in the Alabama Black Belt—a swath of dark soil that runs west to east through the central part of the state—explore the history, culture, and human spirit of the people who live there, and those who came before them and were shaped by the same rich and corrupted geography. In the title story a teenage girl wants desperately to escape her self-destructive mother and comes to realize the hay bale art she can see from their house may hold a key to her future, if she can divine it. The novella “Playing War” tells the story of a wife who’s just learned the hunting accident her husband was involved in years earlier was not exactly an accident. “Haints at Noon,” written in the form of a 1930s slave narrative, tells the story of a couple trying to endure that “peculiar institution.” Another story, “Into Silence,” which was included in Best American Short Stories 2010, gives voice to a woman who is deaf and mute as she tries to break the bonds of her domineering mother when a traveling photographer, working for the WPA, rents a room in their home. The past and present are joined here in stories that demonstrate the never-ending struggle for understanding and connection.