Quail Ridge Books & Music—Eve Kosofsky Sedwick has described James Morrison's writing style as "somewhere between Proust and David Sedaris." In his new collection of short stories, Said and Done, the former NCSU English professor and award-winning Indy film reviewer produces densely textured prose that blurs the line between realism and surrealism in attempting to explore repressed elements in the characters' psyches. In one story, a father dealing with his son's ambiguous sexuality conducts a drunken tour of a famous artist's birthplace. In another, a shy college student comes face to face with the devil after hooking up with his roommate's girlfriend. In a third, an insular, paranoid socialite imagines a plot against her when a friend of her mother's comes to stay. These characters, says author Paul Lisicky, "will possess your imagination long after you've put the book down."
Though the stories employ what Morrison calls "a creative geography," several draw upon a North Carolina setting and the culture shock he felt in moving to the South in 1990. One of the stories, for instance, features a character representing a hybrid between Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter and Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. Morrison says these characters reflect his exaggerated sense of the territory he imagined he was entering when he first moved to Raleigh. "I came to the South expecting people to be crazed and demented figments out of popular culture's Gothic imagination," he says. "And, indeed, some of them were." Morrison reads and signs tonight at 7:30. —Mark Hornburg