Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories
Barry Hannah
“Fire Water”

“Fire Water” is from Barry Hannah’s posthumously published collection, Long, Last, Happy: New and Collected Stories (Grove/Atlantic 2010).  Long, Last, Happy includes work from collections published in his lifetime and four new stories, including “Fire Water,” from the final manuscripts he left behind, and one early-career story never published in volume form.  Barry Hannah is a writer who found wide acclaim with wild, darkly comic short stories and novels set in a phantasmagoric South moving at warp speed. His characters occupy the intersection between heartbreak and surreal comedy.  Hannah received the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award for Airships, and his body of work has been recognized with the PEN/ Malamud Award for Short Fiction.


Justin Taylor, writing in the New York Times, said of the collection: “Barry Hannah…was a matchless stylist — a word he’d most likely have hated, but all the same. Flip any of his eight novels and four previous story collections open and some rocket of prose will come bursting out.”


Hannah, who died in 2010, conducted an interview in The Paris Review in 2004, in which he was forthright about his writerly heresies, if not his shortcomings:  “I hate editing,” he said. “I love to write, but I hate to reread my stuff. To revise.”  Hannah’s stories, revised or not, made big swings for the distant fence, and many of his opening lines are home runs.  For example, from “Water Liars:” “When I am run down and flocked around by the world, I go down to Farte Cove off the Yazoo River and take my beer to the end of the pier where the old liars are still snapping and wheezing at one another.”

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