The Ocean Was Salt

Loretta Cobb

   These stories flow from a most touching recount of the Civil Rights Movement ("The Darling Buds of May" set in Oxford, MS) to a completely raucous tale of academia ("Belle’s Balls"). And the subject matter ranges as widely as the tone. For instance, in "Seeing It Through," a woman diagnosed with cancer confronts and defeats her bumbling, uncaring doctor and the equally bumbling medical system in a surprisingly funny story. In "Feeling Salty," a story that Sena Naslund especially praised for its insight into father-son relations, a divorced father is confronted by his angry teenager son in a spectacular way that oddly leaves both father and son closer. Shifting locale in "Out," Cobb places two "Southern belle" friends in New York City and has them take on successive metropolitan playboys. And in a story of Alzheimer’s, "And the Word Was God," we find a surprising and magical redemption. Whatever the mood, the constant running throughout Loretta Cobb’s first collection is a Southern voice that adeptly crosses sexual, economic, and age barriers to paint a picture of the South moving from the early sixties to the present. In doing so, Loretta Cobb has used a Southern motif and setting to move beyond rationality to encompass everyone’s problems.

ISBN, trade paper: 1-931982-26-0, $14.95                       Sale $7.50

ISBN, library edition: 1-931982-25-2, $25.00                    Sale $12.50

158 Pages

About the Author: 

Loretta Cobb is Founder and Director Emeritus of The Harbert Writing Center at the University of Montevallo. She has published academic essays and poetry, and she has done a series of travel pieces for The Birmingham News as well as a regular column for several years. A graduate with honors of the University of Montevallo and Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont, she has written corporate histories, profiles for Contemporary Novelists and has edited several published books. "Seeing It Through," in Belle’s Letters, was her first published fiction, after which she completed this collection of short stories, The Ocean Was Salt, published by Livingston Press. She is also at work on her first novel, How Can I Keep From Singing? Loretta Cobb lives in Montevallo with her novelist husband William Cobb, very near their two grandchildren. Her greatest joy in life was the birth of her daughter, Susan Meredith Smith.

 Excerpt From the Book:

“Give it some gas, boy. Put the pedal to the metal!” My dad yelled this through a mist of Pabst Blue Ribbon as he popped his first one. He had pulled the grumbling Buick over to the side of the road so that I could take the wheel, get the feel of the car on the highway and then be the one to drive it down the smooth, slick beach. All around Daytona, cars cruise the Atlantic coast, their racing motors competing with the crashing tide for attention. I couldn’t wait to make that drive.
     Of course, I’d rather cruise with my buddies if I had any choice. I had driven their cars around our scrubby, inland town where nobody went faster than 30 miles an hour but us. This was my first legal drive though and the only present Big Papa was likely to give me for my fifteenth birthday. Mama had spent all day cooking my favorite food and decorating a creamy, chocolate cake that sagged in the middle.
     The steering wheel felt loose, slippery, but I gunned the motor and hit the asphalt, tires screeching. The old car shook and jerked like my brother Bobby Gene having a seizure.
   Mama wailed to her grandsons in the backseat, “Oh, God, he’s gonna kill us all: your papa, Big Papa and us, too. Just because of Adam’s learner’s permit burning a hole in their pockets!” She patted the row of cotton tops as if she could now soothe away the fear she’d brought to the six frightened ice-blue eyes, glowing from the back seat in tiers, like three steps of terror.