Lately, I’ve been in the mood for short stories, so I found it the perfect time to pick up Eveningland, the latest from Michael Knight. I haven’t read his work before, but Knight is known for his ability to weave an engaging novella. Sure enough, his new book is a perfect example of beautiful southern storytelling.

eveninglandEveningland is a collection of Alabama short stories that mostly take place around Mobile and the Gulf Coast area. A teenage girl holding a thief hostage in her home. A young art teacher trying to figure out her life. A vengeful husband. A boy with a summer crush. Knight does a skillful job of connecting these seemingly unrelated stories into a tale about the complexities of life in all its forms.

I’ve quickly become a fan of Knight’s writing. From page one, his prose pulled me in, and I found myself reading several stories in one sitting. I love the way he plays around with perspective, choosing various narrators and points of view to tell each story. His writing is clear and to the point, while also quietly poetic. Each sentence flows perfectly into the next, and the rhythm often reminded me of waves lapping along the Alabama beaches.

wavesMy favorite story was “The King of Dauphin Island,” in which a real estate tycoon seeks to buy up and restore the crumbling island after the death of his wife. Relationships are at the heart of this collection, and I couldn’t help but care for each of the characters, though their struggles varied from infidelity to navigating middle-aged life.

I also appreciate how Knight framed the story with events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Hurricane Raphael. He manages to put a face with the impact these events had on a personal level. I may not be from Alabama, but as a Mississippian who has visited Mobile and Dauphin Island numerous times, I think the stories have a vivid sense of place. Knight captures the essence of the area through his descriptions of the land and through his use of voice.

Overall, Eveningland is a well-written collection that demonstrates how life goes on through heartbreak and change. I would recommend it for anyone in need of some good southern short stories. I’m sure I’ll be picking up more of Knight’s works soon.

Micheal Knight will  serve as a panelist on the “Stories from the South” discussion at the Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, August 19 at 10:45 a.m. at the State Capitol in Room 201A.

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