(Cover courtesy of Algonquin Books)

 

In the great Southern tradition, Jill McCorkle has mastered the ability to tell a story by mixing humor, wit, and a bit of angst.

 The eleven stories in Going Away Shoes (Algonquin, 2009)—McCorkle’s fourth short story collection—represent McCorkle at her story-telling best.  

At the core of each story is a woman ready to take a step forward, to move past some barrier.  Yet they might all be aptly described in the same way as the protagonist in the title story: “She is Sisyphus. All day long she pushes that rock and when she is almost to the top, something happens to distract her, and it all rolls back to the very place the journey begins.” These eleven women, each on her own journey of discovery, navigate complicated relationships with parents, siblings, husbands, children, or lovers (ex-lovers, potential lovers, and imaginary lovers).

With the skill of a Southern troubadour, McCorkle’s stories draw the reader into the everyday, yet extraordinary, lives of these characters. These are people we know, perhaps are even us. Going Away Shoes is definitely a journey worth taking.