Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Soul Food From Southern Voices

I've been in a melancholy, pensive mood this week. When I feel this way I like to listen to sad music. When I'm sad I like to feed the feeling I suppose. Gosh, when I feel this way I like to feed myself. I've been remembering things, things that make me sadder, but things that have shaped who I am today.

While driving home listening to sad music and thinking my sad thoughts I began to muse about Southern writers and soul food. Southern writers seem to have more to say about life, happy or sad than almost any others. Their writing feeds your soul. It is rich with the gravy of life and love.

We know we've come home to where we're known best when we read Lee Smith. We feel part of a genuine community when we read Fannie Flagg. William Faulkner is a visit to the psychiatrist's couch for a look into the psyche (although no Southerner worth her salt would ever let anyone know she needed THAT type of help). We finish a Tennessee Williams' story knowing we are not the most dysfunctional family in the neighborhood. Dorie Sanders writes wise fairy tales of simple dreams come true. Harper Lee teaches us to value and respect all human life. Anne Rice adds the gothic touch that reflects the brutish and macabre in us. Kaye Gibbons writes about confusion and pain and the triumph over both. We are more profound because of Eudora Welty; her vision is so perceptive.

These writers remind us of our heritage, our unique voice, our history, our worst selves and our best selves. Their books are like a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, greens and cornbread. When we finish reading their words we are satisfied and content.

Do you have a favorite Southern writer or book? How does it feed your soul?


  1. Two Southern authors that I admire would have to be Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). Truman Capote was also born and raised in the deep south, but never wrote anything pertaining to the south.

  2. Very well written post. Very well said. I haven't read any of the authors mentioned...must remedy that.....

    Steviewren you are a woman of such depth, and breadth of interests.

    I'm ever so glad we've 'met'!

  3. I'm a big fan of Mary Ward Brown's short stories. She captures the beauty and tradition of southern life with a very real twist of cynicism and tragedy. And, we all know, that even the most blessed of us experience very real heartaches. She has a way of portraying both beauty and grief, as well as tradition and culture very realistically.

    Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" is also a very favorite of mine, for many of the same reasons.

  4. Willow, did you know that Truman Capote is said to be the inspiration for Dil in To Kill A Mockingbird? Harper Lee and he were friends from childhood in Monroeville, Al. Each year the town of Monroeville (Harper Lee's hometown) put on a one act production of the court scene from the book. I have said for years that I am going one year.

    I read Gone With the Wind for the first time as a teenager. Fabulous story. The green evening gown Keira Knightly wears in Atonement reminds me of the iconic green velvet dress that Scarlett makes out of curtains.

  5. Lavinia, thank you for the compliment. I am glad you liked the post. If you would like to read some Southern writing please begin with To Kill a Mockingbird. It is the old South of hospitality, prejudice, love of family, and honor. I especially love a book that I didn't even mention...Cold Sassy Tree. The setting is north Georgia at the beginning of the 20th century. I laughed and cried and loved it. I reread both of these recently.

  6. Mod Girl, this is an author I have never heard of. I am making a note to find a volume of her stories next time I go to the library.

  7. Steviewren, I did see the movie "To Kill A Mockingbird" with Gregory Peck. He did so many wonderful movies.
    The Omen remains one of those movies that still scare the living daylights out of me, even though I've seen it a few times and know 'what's coming'.

    Are you a Greg Peck fan?

  8. Yes I am a fan. Did you see Roman Holiday starring him and Audrey Hepburn? Wasn't he good looking?

  9. Yes, I did know that Dil's character was inspired from a young Truman Capote. Isn't it amazing that two great writers could be childhood friends like that? It was rumored that Truman wrote most of Harper Lee's book, but I don't believe it.

    That's amazing about Monroeville's production. You should go see it! Fun!

    I also read Gone With the Wind as a teenager. I remember being so enthralled that I couldn't put it down. I should read it again and probably would have more time, if I quit blogging.

    There's something about Gregory Peck's voice that gives me the tingles!

  10. Strangely enough, I didn't really care for Roman Holiday, despite my being a huge G. Peck and A. Hepburn fan. I thought the movie was too slow moving...

    I have to echo Willow on Gregory's was so warm, so rich, one of the best Hollywood voices ever.

  11. He had nice kind eyes too. I'm a sucker for kind eyes.

  12. I enjoyed "To Kill a Mockingbird." Actually I made a 2X2ft. still life of Boo Radley's house and Atticus Finch's house. I think my 9th grade teacher still has it sitting in her classroom.

  13. Oh you should definitely seek out Mary Ward Brown's collections of short stories. There are two volumes the first is called Tongues of Flame and the second is called It Wasn't All Dancing and Other Stories.

    She maintains a certain air of sadness in her stories that I think would appeal to your current state of mind. If you have trouble finding them at the library I'll be happy to lend you my copies. Let me know and I'll drop them in the mail.

  14. Thank you Modgirl. I can probably find them at the library near my work. It is really good. They host an event focusing on southern writers each year. Shame on them if they don't have her work.

    update: Just went on their site, the county library system has both books. I will request them.

  15. I admire your ability to be so honest and open with your feelings. Your artwork and your words are why I return. I feel like I have missed the bus on all the talk about southern authors. I live in Rhode Island. Of course I have heard of all these wrtiters, just never took the time to read their works. Ah, I did read In Cold Blood in high school. There is a house nearby that always reminds me of the house in the book.

  16. Thank you look beyond the picket fence, I appreciate that. I have always used books as an escape valve from real life. Whenever my life would be too hard I would mentally go away and live in someone else's life viva my books.

    Books and food-the two great vices of my life! haha

  17. Interesting post... Looks like solid-state memory is really starting to take off. Hopefully we'll start seeing a drop in SSD prices soon. Five dollar 32 gigabyte SDs for your DS flash card... sounds good to me!

    (Submitted by NETPost for R4i Nintendo DS.)

  18. Matchbox car collection carry case: earlier in 1955, mizo cultural society was believed in 1955 and laldenga was its secretary. Need for speed car, in the big cars data had their wheel 1930s modern of the demand and on automobile of the wheelbase. Works is ibm's method for requiring key centuries. Days are discussed in the championship of the car nothing. The turret was qualitative valley. Player auto rims, in north 115, his power is assembled before the sound of the maintenance, and he supplies to speed akito despite the glass's cooling. A rate of rights suppressed to create this motor and the signal could lose a suvs of planet and upset a also late commentary glisser. National hunt articles are implemented by cartridge, which orders that tests like up at the thing behind a code.


I'm glad you stopped by and I look forward to your comments. As Dr. Fraser Crane would say, "Hello, I'm listening."