Photo Credit: Barbette Houser
Former Athenian and award-winning fiction writer Julia Elliott enchanted her audience on Friday, Oct. 24 at The Globe as she read from her new collection of short stories, The Wilds. The event was sponsored by The Georgia Review and the University of Georgia’s Creative Writing Program. L.S. McKee of Atlanta opened the evening by reading a selection of her poems. Stephen Corey, editor of The Georgia Review, introduced the writers. About Elliott, he admiringly noted that “She writes some crazy stuff.”
Photo Credit: Lance Knecht
The upstairs of The Globe oozed coziness with its dim lighting, squishy furniture and drugstore Christmas lights as Elliott took the stage to read “Rapture,” one of the two stories from the collection that had previously been published in The Georgia Review. The pale and soft-spoken writer, wearing a vintage plaid blouse with big buttons and rust-colored corduroys, seemed almost shy as she began her story of the overnight journey of Lil, an 11-year-old girl, and her friend, Bonnie, who go to a slumber party at the mill house home of another child. “Truth be told, we wanted to see Brunell in her native habitat,” the young narrator stated bluntly as the story began. As Elliot progressed with her tale, her voice seemed to increase in power and confidence, especially when she spoke as Meemaw, the tiny, withered and prophesizing matriarch of Brunell’s clan. Elliott’s audience was visibly enthralled with her unforgettable characters, especially Uncle Mike, “God’s Gift to Women, yet queer as a three-dollar bill.”
Before the story ended, Elliott had her listeners conjuring up quirky and vivid mental images of a peculiarly Southern Gothic apocalypse, like Jesus in a spaceship casting shadows across the state of South Carolina. In spite of all the comic hellfire, Elliott has created a believable, sweet and intimate world in “Rapture.” Many of Elliott’s listeners were reluctant to leave that odd place when the evening at The Globe was over.
Julia Elliott teaches English and women’s and gender studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Her upcoming novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, will be published by Tin House Books in 2015. For more information, go to juliaelliott.net.
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