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Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories
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Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Back in print at last, the nine beautifully crafted tales in Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories display Doris Betts at the top of her form: compassionate, witty, and unforgettable.
"The Ugliest Pilgrim" takes you into the adventures and into the heart of a disfigured young woman who has run away from her life in search of a better one. This award-winning story
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 22nd 1998 by Touchstone (first published 1973)
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Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A) This has nothing to do with the terrific indie film of the same title.
B) No one in my book club realized that when we quickly agreed on it as our next title.
C) No one in my book club was anything less than *amazed* at how good it was, from first story to last.

Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Her voice blows me away -- she's on a spectrum between Flannery O'Connor and Mary Gordon for characterization, darkness, comedy, the interior of women living in the 70s (that's the Gordon likeness, that interiority, especially in "Still Life with Fruit" about an artist giving birth -- thanks, Karen McElmurray, for that recommendation). "Still Life" and "The Ugliest Pilgrim" (a story about a scarred girl going to a faith healer to get a pretty face, which was made into a musical - !) and "Burning ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this because Betts' obituary in the Oxford American said that she had taught many of today's best Southern authors at UNC Chapel Hill (including my personal favorite, Jill McCorkle). These stories show her to be a descendant of Flannery O'Connor (especially in The Ugliest Pilgrim) and a predecessor of George Saunders and Wells Tower: she focuses on Southern working-class people, but with a touch of the grotesque/absurd. Although published in 1973, this collection tackled issues ...more
Vel Veeter
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbr-9
So you should know right off the bat that this book was not the inspiration or original version of the movie from a few years back. And you should also know that it’s unfortunate they took the title, because this is a really strong collection and the title story is pretty much perfect.

This collection has nine stories and Doris Betts is incredibly wry, wicked, funny, and poignant of a writer. The collection opens with “Ugly Pilgrim” about a disfigured woman running away. Other of the shorter stor
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The last story is great, the others (that I read) are meh.
Lisa Rider
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Well written and original but I didn't care for the subjects too much.
MB Shakespeare
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Amazing short stories!
Fionna Guillaume
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
An odd, beautiful, and unnerving collection of stories. Unapologetically told from the White, female, Southern perspective, these delve into a variety of topics - childbirth; faith healing; interracial sex; dreamworld journeys - that I found both strange and mesmerizing. While something of a time capsule, perhaps, it is certainly an engaging, thoughtful, and worthwhile read.
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book came into my hands by accident. My partner saw the play Violet and brought the book home from the library to read the story it is based on. I picked it up and started reading these surreal stories that come out of Southern Grotesque writing. They are surprising and intense. Violet is the young woman in the story, The Ugliest Pilgrim, she has a wound on her face and is on a journey to get it healed and restore her beauty by a radio minister, who of course is a sham.
A review of the play:
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Like some others, I sought out this book because the excellent musical “Violet” was based on the first of the stories in this collection, but I read all the way through.
So, first: that story, “The Ugliest Pilgrim” is a rather slight tale of a young scarred woman who travels to see a healing preacher, and meets a couple of soldiers on the trip. It is the only upbeat story in the collection. I have to say that the authors of the musical expanded the story creatively and intelligently.
I’d never
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't think I'm sophisticated enough for short story collections. I find myself at the end of most short stories asking, "Okay, but what was the point of that?"

I learned about a sub-genre whilst reading this - "Southern Grotesque." This would include Flanery O'Connor (high school required reading), Harry Crews (tiresome), Cormac McCarthy (an endurance test in every volume), Carson McCullers (a secret joy), William Faulkner (classic), and among others, Ms. Betts here. I have EXTREMELY mixed rea
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I only actually read the first story in the book.
"The Ugliest Pilgrim"
which I read because it is the story that the Broadway musical "Violet" that I recently saw is based on.
It was cool to see Sutton Foster play the leading role. She did a fantastic job!

"Violet" (the play) ends differently than "The Ugliest Pilgrim" (the book) which disappointed Kary even though he loved the musical/play despite the wrong ending. We chose to see Violet because Kary teaches the story. I think the ending of "The
Jul 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book was a major disappointment for me, and likely would be for most of my goodreads friends. It has _nothing_ to do with the movie of the same name, which is based on a different short story altogether.

Doris Betts, instead, writes disconcerting stories, usually centered on American white people in the 1950s. Many of the stories include attention to heterosexual flirtation, disability, the aching contradictions of hope, and the racism of the protagonists.

Even more disturbingly, Betts incl
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Mize
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Not sure why I didn't like this more. It had all the elements. Good prose, at times amazing. The stories are all pretty dark which I also usually like. All these stories are too similar. It's like- I get it already this person is depressed- repressed- doesn't give a shit. Too much illness? Cancer? Too much emotional disconnection that it's unsettling? There are so many things that I usually like in writing that I guess they all start to work against each other- Doris Betts is trying to hard I th ...more
Michele White
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Solid collection of short stories that truly transport you to the South in the 60s. Her characters are ridden with isms and flaws that make them all the more relatable or fascinating to watch as the story unfolds. And there is a certain vividness to her stories that I don't always feel with short works of fiction.

And, as an FYI, this book is not the source of the recent movie of the same name - but there is a windabout connection (see here for story). Although that is what made this book catch
Jeanne Dunn
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Research for a show I am directing (Violet, a musical based on Betts' short story, The Ugliest Pilgrim) led me to Doris Betts. I have discovered a real appreciation and enjoyment of southern women writers, and recommend this book of stories to anyone who is looking for a real southern experience served up in a beautiful and authentic way. In The Ugliest Pilgrim : " Some mornings a deer and I scare up each other in the brush, and his heart stops, and my heart stops. Everything stops till he plung ...more
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While some of these stories do feel a little dated, overall, they have lasting themes that are still compelling 30+ after they were written. This collection includes the highly anthologized "The Ugliest Pilgrim" which is as nearly as perfect as a shortstory can get. Also quite incredibly are the title story and "Still Life with Fruit". I highly recommed this book to writers especially as the structure of these stories is impressive. A master class in short story writing.
Cecilia Hatfield
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I admit to a small amount of prejudice, as the author was a friend of the family. That said, I think her work flew under the radar much of her career, and I hope a new generation of readers will take a chance and enjoy her writing. A thoughtful writer with a very keen eye for the inner struggles of humanity.
Kay Katie
Mar 05, 2013 marked it as to-read
At first I wanted to read the book in which the awarding winning movie was based. I found out that this is not one and the same. Although the movie was originally an adaptation of a play, they simply used the same name. However, my interest is intrigued by the reviews given about Doris Betts. I will still read "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories has one of the best stories I've read in my 66 years: "The Ugliest Pilgrim." This is a story of hope, sorrow and redemption, as only Betts can tell it. The story was made into an Academy Award winning short film in1981/82.
Feb 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is probably the worst book of short stories I've ever read. There's nothing redeeming about any of them, in this atrocious example of America's worst decade for fiction. I can't understand why so many people at UNC thought so much of Betts. She couldn't write, full stop.
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Her best work in her best medium, the short story.
Mar 25, 2010 rated it liked it
A quick read of dark short stories. Kept me amused. Bonnie recommended it to me.
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Given the title, I thought this would be the basis for the Sundance film... it wasn't. It was however a happy accident: Betts beautifully tells tales of The South half a century ago.
Larry Benfield
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Superbly written stories with an authentic southern use of language.
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book 3 read on Spring Break 2016. Loved it! (Thought it might have something to do with the recently released film. It doesn't.)
Adrienne Kiser
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Is it trite to say that this collection of stories made me laugh, made me uncomfortable, and made me cry? It did all of those things and more.
Nic Dafis
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful stories. Not a name I'd been aware of until I read Annie Dillard's Living by Fiction. Will have to go back to that and unearth more buried American treasure.
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
3rd volume of short fiction include 7 stories that feature women characters at the center of the action
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  • Life Times: Stories, 1952-2007
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  • The Collected Stories
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Doris Betts (1932-2012), former Chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, wrote nine novels and three collections of short stories, including The Gentle Insurrection, The Sharp Teeth of Love, Souls Raised from the Dead, which won the Southern Book Award, and Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Betts taught at the University of North Carolina at Ch ...more