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Blue Ridge Shadows

Stories by Julia Nunnally Duncan

192 pages
Published in 2002
ISBN: 0-916078-55-8

Blue Ridge Shadows by Julia Nunnally Duncan is a collection of fifteen short stories set in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. These stories are skillfully woven into an emotional landscape of the region, with effects of poverty and economic blight never far from the surface. The stories are of proud and independent people facing difficult times in the best way they can. They deal with the rural South with great impact and effectiveness. Without resorting to stereotypes, Duncan’s stories show the psychological effect of isolation and poverty and on people, particularly women. These are stories that will linger in the memory.


Julia Nunnally Duncan writes direct, precise-yet-lyrical prose, which serves to ground the extraordinary things which happen to the ordinary people in her stories. Or maybe these people are not ordinary at all - maybe nobody is. Maybe that's the point. A small-town wife falls in love with a mannequin in a Civil War uniform...a ne'er-do-well undertaker's daughter can't quit visiting the dead...a teenage love goes tragically wrong...These stories rise quietly to the level of myth; they are powerful stories - sometimes dark, always deep. They will linger in your mind.

- Lee Smith

Julia Duncan's Blue Ridge Shadows draws us into a fictional world of both mystery and clear-eyed attention to the details of a region. Duncan's short stories explore the inner lives of their characters, their fears, dreams, obsessions, and their desire for some sort of understanding of what drives them, even if their experience does not always lend itself to easy explanation. Also a poet, Duncan brings the poet's gift for rhythm to her prose. Her stories remind me of well-wrought filigree, the kind women used to crochet around the rough edges of garments and bed-linens, or hook into rose-windows of sturdy white thread to lie upon sofas and chair backs. Their meaning lay in their joining of delicacy and endurance. Julia Duncan's stories weave the same kind of magic.

- Kathryn Stripling Byer

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