From the Bottom Up


The University of Georgia Press

Leigh Allison Wilson is, as one of her narrators says of the country music lover, “an inveterate truth seeker who, deep down, believes every word is at best a pack of decent lies and at worst a matter of opinion.” This debut collection was one of the first two winners of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

“When Leigh Wilson sets her pen to it, she can inscribe grim parables of pretentious morality and outright evil that will curdle your blood.”
—Doris Grumbach, Georgia Review

“Short stories with a corrosive, bent, off-beat quality brighten From the Bottom Up. Characters one can’t easily forget . . . Wilson’s work has a Tennessee regionalism that shifts to universal dimensions.”
—Malcolm Boyd, Los Angeles Times

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Table of Contents

Title Original Publication Details First Line
From the Bottom Up The Georgia Review, Spring 1981 “Old Blackburn’s granddaughter, Lorraine, sat on the edge of the bathtub and thumped the heels of her patent-leather shoes against the porcelain sides.”
Mildred Motley and the Son of a Bitch Skyline, Winter 1981 “There were three things Mildred Motley Plonk needed: a decent man, a fortune, and a son of a bitch to kill.”
The Raising “Of the eight matrons perched like pigeons around two identical card tables, Mrs. Bertram Eastman was the lone childless woman.”
The Snipe Hunters “On a map the state of Tennessee is a rough parallelogram.”
Invictus The Southern Review, Spring 1979 “Mamaw’s white face broke out of the darkness and hovered like a tear over Leota’s eyes.”
South of the Border “In a car, headed point-blank down an interstate, there is a sanity akin to recurring dreams: you feel as if every moment has been lived and will be lived exactly according to plan.”
Broken Mirrors Mademoiselle, October 1979 “Through the sheer living room curtains, across the leaf-strewn yard, Oredia could see the pickup truck.”
The Professors “I have yet to understand it.”
The Wellest Day “By one in the afternoon most of the family was there.”
Country Blues for Melissa “One night, twenty years ago and in the middle of one of the few really blizzard-like storms that pounce on the mountains of East Tennessee, I awoke from a strange dream—about disembodies but kind hearts, oddly enough, throwing bars of music at me—and felt a very cold draft on my face.”


William Morrow & CoWilson Wind

“Wilson’s short fiction, stories of loneliness, need and the inevitability of disappointment or pain, reflect the lives of lower-middle-class people alienated from their roots.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Wilson’s matter-of-fact style allows her troubled characters to display dignity along with intense pain.”
Library Journal

“Her stories have admirable depth, a keen sensitivity to the distances between people and our chary hope to bridge those distances. But bringing characters vividly to life is Wilson`s greatest talent.”
Andy Solomon, Chicago Tribune

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Table of Contents

Title Original Publication Details First Line
Massé Harper’s, March 1986 “The truth is it’s not much of a city.”
Where She Was Grand Street “Late in May my father drove us north in a new car, a tan station wagon with green carpet that smelled like rubber.”
Missing Persons The Kenyon Review “Susan sits in the dark corner of the porch on a lawn chair, swinging her legs, making faces at Aileen, the woman who wants to become her stepmother.”
Obscene Callers “That day, the day I’m thinking about, I was sitting at my breakfast table alone.”
Women in the Kingdom Raccoon “Every once in a while they still come by, wearing smiles as stiff as the brims of hats, but I never let them in anymore.”
Wind “That terrible spring, the spring I turned fifteen, was a season of storms in East Tennessee.”