The stories in Greg Downs’s Spit Baths are filled with oddball characters and twisted relationships, often with an absent father or mother or both, and a grandmother or grandfather looming large: “Adam’s Curse,” “Black Pork,” “Snack Cakes,” “Spit Baths,” “Indoor Plumbing.”
“Crawford helped Maw-Maw fold the clothes. Really, he only helped with the towels and the sheets. He tried folding the shirts and the slacks, but he was never good enough, and Maw-Maw slapped his hand away, not hard, and refolded them herself.”
There are also a number of stories about people who seem to be spiraling out of reality, including “Black Pork” and “Between States.” (I had the pleasure of hearing Greg read from the latter at both Sewanee last year and AWP this year, where he also read “Adam’s Curse” and an excerpt from “A Comparative History of Nashville Love Affairs.”) This volume, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award last year, is a standout.