Opposable Thumbs

Suzanne Hudson


     Southern with a vengeance, these stories soak the reader in atmosphere as thoroughly as might a river baptism. And while this atmosphere is often enough silt-laden and gritty, it always moves one right along with the characters, whether they’re walking a hot two-lane or tossing out beer cans at someone walking. Thomas Merton wrote that he admired Flannery O’Connor’s writing, but then wondered why she had to make her characters so despicable before their moment of grace. Hudson has transferred the moment of grace into a secular insight, and this might in part explain why her characters—well, they still aren’t particularly likable—are at least understandable and pitiable in their sore-beset ways. So understandable that this collection could serve up a good start for any inquiry into social/psychological deviance.  

ISBN 978-0-942979-81-7 paper, $12.95             Sale $6.50

ISBN 978-0-942979-82-4 cloth, $27.00               Sale $13.50

About the Author: 

Suzanne Hudson is a guidance counselor in the Alabama school system. She has lived in Alabama nearly all her life. This is her first collection. Her story “La Prade” won the Penthouse new writer competition nearly twenty years ago, and now Suzanne has taken up her pen—her computer—again to write more winning, moving stories.

 Excerpt From the Book:

     Kansas Lacey was twelve years old the summer Leo Tolbert carelessly took up a sharp hatchet, chopped off his five-year-old brother Cooter’s thumb, and threw it up on the sloping tin roof of the jailhouse. Over the sweltering days that followed, Kansas, Leo, and his twin sister Roxy watched the tiny appendage go from orange to blue-green to black against hot silver, swirling small currents and sprinklings of decaying scents down to the scrubby back yard of the Blackshear County Jail. It was on a Thursday. It was 1962.
        Leo was the jailer’s boy, pudgy, pork-fed, and red-headed with freckles all over; Roxy was more angular, rust-haired and speckle-flecked as well, but pretty to Leo’s plain. They lived in the house attached to the front of the jail, a dungeonesque Victorian structure with steep brick stairs and dark, barred windows that glared down at the back yards and alleys where they played. Victor Tolbert, the jailer, spent his days visiting a cold-edged humor on the inmates he kept, sometimes turning hard taunts at his wife, Joleen. When this happened and when stabbing words or the muffled pounding of a fist to a wall drifted from the open windows of the front rooms, the Tolbert children scurried like mice to Kansas’s yard to create games and stay out of their daddy’s way.
    Next to the jailhouse was the office of the Sumner Local, serving the small town with church notes, wedding pieces, and farm news. Next to it was Kansas’s grandparents’ and great-grandmother’s house, where Kansas had lived for the seven years since her mother’s death.