Friday, February 1, 2013

There’s Just Something About the South

I realized this morning that many of the writers IPearl_River_backwater_in_Mississippi (1) count among my favorites are from the south—writers like Flannery O’Connor from Georgia, Michael Morris from Alabama, William Faulkner from Mississippi, and Charles Martin from Florida.  Why is that? 

Even in southern Ohio I feel it.  It’s that laid back way of life.  If something doesn’t get done today, it’ll get done tomorrow or sometime.  There’s no need to rush.  There’s always time to stop and chat.  Doors are made to be opened.  Sofas and tables are placed for conversation.  It is the moment that matters and every moment has meaning.

That’s what puts southern writers in a class with Jane Austen and the best authors of a bygone era.  They take time to lead us into their world, to settle us in, and to make us their friends.  They force us to take time to consider the theme and substance of their words.  They allow us to sit by their fire as they tell us stories that make us think.

So, if you haven’t read these authors make it your New Year’s pledge to do so.  Here are four recommendations for each.

  • Flannery O’Connor’s short stories are where she shined, but if you want to delve further, the collected works don’t cost much more and her correspondence is worth as much as her short stories.
  • Michael Morris:  it’s a toss-up between Slow Way Home and Man in the Blue Moon.  I thoroughly enjoyed both, but might give the edge to Slow Way Home.
  • Jane Austen:  Pride and Prejudice is the most popular, so that’s a good place to start.
  • William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is as good as it gets. 
  • Finally, Charles Martin.  I saved him for last because of the way I found him.  I don’t normally frequent the library because I am rarely near one.  One day, I was close by, had extra time, and decided to look for a novel to read—not a schlock novel with the obligatory sex scene halfway through--something good.  I pulled first one book then another off the shelf until I found The Dead Don’t Dance (and its sequel Maggie).  I took it home to read and could not put it down.  Filled with compelling characters, humor, pathos, and excellent writing, it is a modern classic. 

This ends my ode to southern writers.  There are many more excellent writers from the south that I haven’t mentioned.  Which regional authors that draw you in? 



Picture By Charlie Brenner from Jackson Mississippi, USA (Pearl River backwater  Uploaded by Allstarecho) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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