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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

A Curtain of Green and Other Stories - Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter Rating: 4.25* of fiveThe Book Description: In her now-famous introduction to this first collection by a then-unknown young writer from Mississippi named Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter wrote that "there is even in the smallest story a sense of power in reserve which makes me believe firmly that, splendid beginning that it is, it is only the beginning." Porter was of course prophetic, and the beginning was splendid. A Curtain of Green both introduced and established Eudora Welty as in instinctive genius of short fiction, and in this groundbreaking collection, which includes "Powerhouse" and "Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden," are the first great works of a great American writer.My Review: Her first collection of stories, published *the same year* as her first story appeared in print! ("A Worn Path" in Atlantic Monthly {as it was then}, in 1941.) Diarmuid Russell, the superagent of his era, sold the collection on the strength of that...to a friend of Miss Eudora's who was working at Doubleday, Doran (as it was then). That, laddies and gentlewomen, is damn near inconceivable to today's publishing professionals. A collection by an unknown barely published writer getting published by a major house? Who's she sleepin' with?The Muses. She was a gifted writer, and stories were her perfect m├ętier.It's a first book, though, and no matter how hard one tries, there is the inevitability of imperfection and probability of overexuberance. Here:Night fell. The darkness was thin, like some sleazy dress that has been worn and worn for many winters and always lets the cold through to the bones. Then the moon rose. A farm lay quite visible, like a white stone in water, among the stretches of deep woods in their colorless dead leaf. By a closer and more searching eye than the moon's, everything belonging to the Mortons might have been seen--even to the tiny tomato in their neat rows closest to the house, gray and featherlike, appalling in their exposed fragility. The moonlight crossed everything, and lay upon the darkest shape of all, the farmhouse where the lamp had just been blown out.first paragraph, "The Whistle" in A Curtain of GreenThat's a lovely word-picture, and a kind of eerie mood-setting image. It's also too long and just a widge overwritten. But the story, a chilling little piece, is plenty interesting. It's always good to have an isolated farmhouse with a married couple basking in pale moonlight when something unexplained and menacing in its unexpectedness happens. The story left me physically chilled. And it's not her best work.I am a major partisan of "Why I Live at the P.O." as among the great stories of the American South's culture. It's a flawlessly built, amusingly written moment in a family's life, a piece of time that any Southern boy with sisters or maternal aunts can not only relate to but practically choreograph. So I hope to tell you I marched in and got that radio, and they could of all bit a nail in two, especially Stella-Rondo, that it used to belong to, and she well knew she couldn't get it back, I'd sue for it like a shot. And I very politely took the sewing-machine motor I helped pay the most on to give Mama for Christmas back in 1929, and a good big calendar, with the first-aid remedies on it. The thermometer and the Hawaiian ukulele certainly were rightfully mine, and I stood on the step-ladder and got all my watermelon-rind preserves and every fruit and vegetable I'd put up, every jar."Why I Live at the P.O." from A Curtain of GreenTwo sisters have a spat about a man, and the family weighs in. Hijiinks ensue. It's a chestnut now, it was a chestnut then, and it's damn good and hilarious.This is my idea of a good story collection, and the writer who created this first crack out of the box is my idea of gifted, and there is not one thing I'd say to her except "well done, Miss Eudora" if she stood right here in front of me, not one little hint of a frown or trace of a doubt in my voice. Make those mistakes and make 'em big, Miss Eudora, because if this is the FIRST then the BEST is gonna knock "good" right into "superb."And it did.