Short Story Narrated: “The War Of Northern Aggression”


Image of Eastern Kentucky State Mental Hospital

Image of Gloria Regalbuto BentleyGloria Regalbuto Bentley narrates “The War of Northern Aggression,” a searing short story set in the Steinbeck-era South, where a female patient on funeral furlough from an Eastern Kentucky mental hospital encounters a brother with secrets, a town without pity, and an illegitimate son torn from her by a world of men-who-hurt-women. John Steinbeck found his female voice in the heroic women of The Grapes of Wrath, characters whose collective strength survives famine, flood, and separation. Roy Bentley’s unforgettable protagonist barely hangs on, exiled and powerless, in a house of pain without company, hope, or exit. Like Steinbeck’s novel, Bentley’s story starts with an act of self-defensive violence provoked by savage male aggressiveness. Unlike Tom Joad, who served his time and was welcomed home by family, this transgressor’s sentence becomes a permanent condition through a brother’s complicity—a tragic example of punishing the victim for which Steinbeck would have felt anguished empathy. So will Steinbeck readers like you. Click below to hear Gloria Regalbuto Bentley narrate a stunning new short story, “The War of Northern Aggression.”Ed.

Copyright © 2015 Roy Bentley. All rights reserved.

Read “The War of Northern Aggression.”

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama Press), Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine Press), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House Press). A new book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has been selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and will be publlshed in the spring of 2018 by the University of Arkansas Press. Work from that collection has appeared in Shenandoah, Pleiades, Rattle, Blackbird, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.


  1. About The War of Northern Aggression: I read it and I listened to it, and I find it an extremely captivating story. What Will Ray says in his introduction to Gloria Bentley’s reading is spot on: It’s a heartbreaking trip on two levels, the one that’s populated with black-tree-miles in a gray world, and the other that is the gloomy inside world of a tortured woman permanently abandoned. The sign she sees on the gates at the Eastern State Hospital is the same one she sees in the clouded skies outside: Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Wonderfully detailed. A memorable story.

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