Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree -
The American South
in books and memory
by J. H. Segars
Readers from throughout the
nationand worldcontinue to demonstrate a strong interest in the
American South and her homegrown writers. Southerners such as
Alice Walker, William Faulkner, Flannery OConnor and John Gresham
are renown for their literary achievements and published works.
Also, journalists like Mississippis Willie Morris and Atlantas
Celestine Sibley are being rediscovered by passionate fans who
want to learn more about the authentic Southern experience.
New and reprint editions of
books about the South are being released each year by a variety of
publishing houses, both large and small. Most of the authors have
a sincere purpose: to expose their audience to the culture,
history, and lifestyles of southerners. And while these projects
represent a worthy undertaking, there does exist one fly in the
ointment: some of these well-meaning authors are careless in their
portrayals of the region and in their understanding of those who
call themselves Southerners.
And this is where this
little column comes into playwe will make an honest effort to
provide informative down-home commentary on publications that
are about the South and her diverse peoples. This will include
notes on new releases and, as importantly, reading suggestions
about older, lesser- known publications and long-forgotten
reprints. In addition, we hope to offer insight from our readers
about their literary experiences.
This modest endeavor, of
course, is not meant to be a book review column similar to those
found in a Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York newspaper (Heavens
Forbid!). To the contrary, this little column will be more
akin to something that might be found in a weekly newspaper like
the Mayberry Bugle. Now, think about this: Wouldnt the
good folk in Mayberry (in real life, Mt. Airy, North Carolina)
come much closer to recommending a good read about the South than,
say, the learned academicians in the aforementioned big cities?
At any rate, in upcoming
weeks we will take a look at books that focus on iconic regional
topics to include the following: Carolina beach music, Johnny
Cash, college football, Gettysburg, shag dancing, southern women,
soul food, backcountry road trips, the Hunley, and Otis
Redding. Also, we will learn about the Oxford American,
talk about Civil War conferences (in particular, one recently held
at the University of Mississippi), and meet a Faulknerian scholar
(Noel Polk). And along the way, we will mention some provocative
books that dont have nice things to say about our region. (for
example, Tony Horwitzs Confederates in the Attic). Stay
tunedthis might be a hoot.
(Hank) Segars is the author and editor of books about the South to
include The Bell Irvin Wiley Reader (LSU Press). Please email
email@example.com. for comments and book recommendations.
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