Long, Last, Happy combines the best of the four story collections Barry Hannah published during his lifetime, four new stories from the final manuscripts he left behind, and one early-career story never published in volume form. Here, a man’s estranged wife buzzes his house in her airplane, and a tailgate party can turn suddenly Biblical. The Confederate corporal in love with his General, the retired surgeon turning canine, the teenage boy rebelling against the gloomy John Birch literature” of his surroundings, who ends up looking after an eccentric, beautiful lushHannah’s characters occupy the intersection of heartbreak and surreal comedy. In his last works, set in a Mississippi college town terrorized by mysterious arson, the ghosts of history and devilments of love, lust, and drink walk the streets. Throughout, his ferocious, glittering prose maps a literary New Southa fictional landscape burning with racial unease, sex, love, hellraising, and a deep devotion to the art of storytelling.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2010: The real excitement of a well-done fireworks production comes not so much from a single boom and flash--anybody can make a big noise--but from the way the explosions pile up on each other, building and surprising and orchestrated to awe. And so it is with a Barry Hannah story. Every sentence--every sentence, he didn't take breathers--is packed full of explosives and then set to detonate, one after the other. What makes them so spectacular? There's the volatile mix of earthy slang and formal diction, and the uncanny rhythm of speech and thought, each note hit exactly. But most of all they are saturated with desire. Everyone in Hannah's stories wants, wants desperately, and they do so at such a pitch that you can understand why Hannah, a fine novelist too, was better known for his intense shorter tales, the best of which are collected for the first time, following his untimely death last March, in Long, Last, Happy. Rural murderers and fishermen and lovers, bitter and/or callow dilettantes, soldiers in many wars, sorrowful husbands and wrathful wives: Hannah channels them all, under a philosophy confessed to by one of his own narrators, "I have license to exaggerate, as I have just done, but many would be horrified to know how little." --Tom Nissley