Barry Hannah Short Fiction Analysis
Barry Hannah is among the most prominent southern writers of the post World War II period and has been widely praised for producing some of the finest fiction about the South since the work of William Faulkner. Characterized by a surrealistic style and surprising narrative twists, his stories often depict violent and/or sexual situations that oscillate between the bleak and the hilarious.
Hannah was especially interested in depicting a generation of southern men scarred by the Vietnam War, a conflict which repeated the Civil War’s pattern of loss and defeat but which was also the harbinger of both a crisis in masculinity and a general social unraveling. His largely male characters consistently suffer from physical or emotional pain and cannot escape the destructive patterns in which they find themselves and for which they are, in part, responsible. These stories of disintegration and fragmentation are seen as representative of the difficulties of life in a post-Vietnam America. However, Hannah’s jazzy, meandering style and his absurdist sense of humor add rich dimensions of comedy and tragedy that cannot be communicated by simply delineating his narratives, which often consist of a series of chaotic subplots and digressions.
Hannah’s distinctive style, which strikes the reader as both manic and depressive, is perfectly suited to the inner lives of his characters, whose emotional weather ranges from a sense of absurd comedy to feelings of...
(The entire section is 1305 words.)
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