60-Second Critic: Spit Baths

Spit Baths
By Greg Downs
(University of Georgia Press; $24.95)

History lurks in this debut short-story collection by West Philly's Downs, winner of the Flannery O'Connor award: “The Hired Man” is a revisionist take on Washington's winter at Valley Forge, while “Domestic Architecture” features


Spit Baths
By Greg Downs
(University of Georgia Press; $24.95)

History lurks in this debut short-story collection by West Philly's Downs, winner of the Flannery O'Connor award: “The Hired Man” is a revisionist take on Washington's winter at Valley Forge, while “Domestic Architecture” features a house with an eerie past. “The Field Trip” is a slide show through a lifetime of poor decisions (though it may all be a dream). Downs writes with a Southern twang, and handles interracial romance frequently and delicately, as in “Black Pork,” with a white teen resisting a black neighbor's advances. Themes and symbols tend to recur: State lines spell betrayal; kids are in the care of grandparents. But there's immense heart to Downs's quirky but controlled storytelling, spiked with such observations as, “Truth, that's just a four-letter word, with another letter added on for bad luck.” Grade: B+

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.