Folks and faith: two books about the South

In his short essay, “Dear Santa (Again),” Rick Bragg writes, “For my big brother Sam, I would like you to send a cinder block. He can place it atop his foot, when he drives. I once wrote that all he needed to pass for an old woman behind the wheel was a pillbox hat and pearls, but have since decided that is insulting … to old women. Old women blow right past him.”

Southern pride has a dark history

To the Editor: Haywood County 2020: I can’t drive down the street without seeing a representation of a Confederate flag. It’s flying in my neighbor’s yard, waving from the backs of unnecessarily jacked up trucks, and on T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers. Let’s be honest, you can’t swing a possum without hitting the stars and bars. 

Passionate about print: a review of A Literate South

For many years, most of us who read histories and biographies about America between 1800 and 1865 assumed the seat of literacy and learning was in New England. The plantation and professional classes of the Antebellum South were of course readers, and in some cases writers, relatively wealthy men and women who enjoyed the luxury of newspapers or the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Few would have thought the yeoman farmers and townspeople of that age and place might be equally passionate about print and literature. 

Trying to define Appalachia and the South

Who speaks for Appalachia?

That is the question implicit in Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy (West Virginia University Press, 2019, 421 pages). In this collection of essays, brief memoirs, and poems, editors Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll bring together writers to address J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Some of these writers attack Vance for acting as a spokesman for Appalachian America, a title Vance doesn’t claim, some defend him, and a few seem aggrieved or jealous because he has earned a big name and big bucks from his memoir. 

Pondering the power of forgiveness

In Charles Martin’s novel A Life Intercepted (Center Street Publishers, 2014, 326 pages), college senior Matthew “the Rocket” Rising has everything going for him. He’s one of the best college quarterbacks the gridiron has ever seen, the NFL has made him the number one pick in the draft, and various sports companies are salivating to have The Rocket endorse their products. Best of all, Matthew is married to Audrey, his high school sweetheart, his helpmate and anchor whose love for him seems bottomless. 

Books about the American South will delight

Let’s go exploring.

More specifically, let’s explore the American South.

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