Reading Matters

Absurdity of modern life captured in short stories

When you see blurbs by such literary giants as Ron Rash, Robert Morgan, George Singleton and Dot Jackson on the back cover of one book of short stories, you better listen up.

They are each raving about Gilbert Allen’s “The Final Days of Great American Shopping: Stories Past, Present and Future,” about our society’s unparalled self-indulgence.

Allen, the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature Emeritus at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., sets the stories in Belladonna, a gated subdivision in upstate South Carolina. His characters are doing their dead-level best to buy happiness.

“Sentence by sentence and page by page, the stories delight and make us laugh,” says Robert Morgan, “and through the laughter we see reflections of ourselves in the craziest and most unexpected places.”