Belles' Letters 

Joe Taylor & Tina Jones


Gumbo in Mobile, Dreamland Ribs in Tuscaloosa, noveau cuisine in Birmingham, Chris’s hot dogs in Montgomery, and pond-raised catfish fried in the Black Belt—as varied as that menu, so are the stories and excerpts in this collection by women writers from Alabama. Comedy, allegory, and folklore are here. Subjects varying from childhood initiation, to spousal abuse, to race relations, to AIDS are here. Plots involving murder, romance, necrophilia, Barbie dolls, kinfolk, and ghostly appearances are here. In brief, when you finish this collection your concept of Alabama writers, as well as your concept of women writers, will expand.

ISBN 0-942979-57-5, trade paper, $12.95   Sale $4.50

ISBN 0-942979-58-3, hardcover no longer available

196 pages


Excerpt from the Book:

    In her early morning dream, Alva Beth sits in a dark, smoky bar with Bessie Smith, who talks to her about love. “Honey, what I know about love could fill this room,” Bessie says. Her sable-colored fingers wave away a thin blue layer of ciga­rette smoke and through the paisley it makes around her face, she whispers, “Love is like smoke. In the morn­ing, child, ain’t nothing left but the stink.”
    Bessie Smith throws her head back and laughs, her laughter the sound of a trumpet wailing a single note, high and long, like something stuck. Alva Beth covers her ears, but the sound only gets louder and sharper, piercing right through her until she wakes. And gradually, as the vividness of the dream re­cedes, Alva Beth realizes that what she hears is neither music nor laughter, but machinery.       
    “Jesus Christ,” she mutters. She throws off the sheet and clomps down the upstairs hallway, following the grinding hum into her parents’ empty bedroom. She stands, naked and grumpy, at the French doors that lead onto the balcony. The tree surgeon stands in a little bucket not fifty yards away taking a chain saw to the limb of a live oak. She watches as the saw slices clean through and the branch crashes with a thud to the ground. The tree surgeon cuts off the chain saw motor and looks down, yelling something to someone Alva Beth can’t see. He lifts the chain saw easily, as if it were a toy, and braces it on the edge of the bucket. Sunlight, filtered­ through the branches, dapples his body with shadows that dance over the muscular curve of chest like a strobe. His torso seems to waver, and Alva Beth fears for a moment that his weight will propel him over the side. He lifts his safety goggles high on his forehead and rubs his cheek­bones with broad fingers. As he reaches again for the goggles, he looks at the window where Alva Beth stands behind sheer curtains. He nods as though he were being introduced, and then slides the goggles over his eyes and turns away. He grips the side of the bucket as it descends out of sight.