The Return of Brad Vice



As regular storySouth readers may remember, last year the editors of this journal strongly defended Brad Vice against charges of plagiarism. While our defense had a bitter-sweet ring to it since the University of Georgia Press had already pulped all copies of Vice's book, we saw this as an opportunity to bring attention to the great wrong being done to a great writer. Yes, Vice had made mistakes. But despite the screams from partisans bent on destroying his reputation, his mistakes never reached the level of a deadly literary sin.

Several new developments suggest that our view of Vice as a talented writer who made a minor mistake is gaining traction. First, River City Publishing plans to issue a new edition of the book in the spring of 2007. As reported in the Oxford American, "The revised version will more closely mirror Vice’s 2001 dissertation from the University of Cincinnati, which contained many of the stories that ended up being published as The Bear Bryant Funeral Train. Unlike the UGA Press edition, it will be divided into two sections, the latter of which is set entirely in Tuscaloosa. In his dissertation, Vice described the Tuscaloosa stories as an 'attempt to reconcile the seemingly incompatible movements of Southern regionalism and international postmodernism.' In that vein, it contained epigraphs by Albert Camus, Basho, Guy Davenport, Bear Bryant, and, more importantly, Carmer, all of which will reappear in the River City edition." This edition will also include an introduction by Vice and critical essays by John Dufresne, Erin McGraw, Don Noble, and Jake Adam York (my fellow storySouth editor).

This info is contained in the new issue of the Oxford American. Two articles on Vice from the issue are also available online: "The Strange Case of Brad Vice: In defense of a destroyed treasure" by Michelle Richmond and "Absurdity and Madness: The Making of the Bear Bryant Funeral Train" by Brad Vice himself. These essays add much to the overall understanding of both what Vice did and the literary world's overreaction.

Personally, I'm glad that Brad Vice is getting a second chance. I look forward to the spring rerelease of his book.