THE DEEP SOUTH IS HAUNTED BY IRONY
Katherine Elberfeld's fiction finds secrets and long-hidden
feelings beneath the polite veneer.
The short stories in Katherine Elberfeld’s first collection, Make Yourselves at Home, have an ironic blend of grotesque and comic, mannered and eccentric, loving and vindictive, which may bring to readers’ minds the spare, strong talents of other southern women writers, like Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, and Eudora Welty.Elberfeld’s fiction kindly,vividly vivisects the gentility of southern small-town society.
We see profound love expressed between people who are not related, as between Olivia and Hallie in “The Boardinghouse Reach.” We see a young man in “Ten Bucks” receive a jolt that, we hope, can break him out of his defensive modes. Marriages have turned in on themselves in “Cicadas” and “Make Yourselves at Home.” In “Brotherly Love,” a soft-spoken brother finally rebels against his sister’s life-long domination. Two elderly sisters talk for the first time in “The Hats” about how their parents trampled their dreams decades before. In the closing story in the collection, “The Perfume Bottle,” rivalry and jealousy are finally given voice in the jumbled, anguished interior thoughts of a dying Granny.
Asked to describe her fiction, Elberfeld answered: “In the deep South, twisting live oaks and curtains of Spanish moss create a beautiful but haunting environment teeming with lushness and with menaces in the dark. Poisonous snakes hide in the undergrowth and alligators lurk in the black waters. The characters and their lives in these stories mirror that landscape with all its beauty, complexity, hidden dangers and surprises. But occasionally, a shaft of light shines on the water, illuminating the threats in its depth, and the characters can decide whether to wade into the water or not.”
Katherine Elberfeld's careers in journalism, freelance writing, and the Episcopal priesthood inform and inspire her writing. She is the author of To Speak of Love, In the Midst of Sunflowers, Jordan to Jerusalem, and the novel The Lady of the House, and has published short stories and articles in Appalachian Heritage, New Therapist, Concepts in Human Development, and Leadership in Action. A native of Georgia, she now lives in Marietta, not far from her hometown of Gainesville. She invites readers and fellow writers to visit her website: www.katherineelberfeld.com.