Friday, January 16, 2009

Southern Authors

I am going to take the time to write about something other than family history today. I'm going to use my blog as a place to vent about a trend that is bothering me. Southern Writers.
I long for southern writers like Eudora Welty, Jesse Stuart or William Faulkner. I don't understand why so many southern fiction writers go out of their way to make southern people look silly. Most of the southern people I know are wonderful. They are smart, funny, educated. Even the ones who aren't particularly well educated are perfectly delightful people whom I am proud to call family and friends. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about some of the characters in some of the books I've read lately.
I was reading Margaret Maron's book, Death's Half Acre, and found rum runners, white folk who live in the big house and black folk who live in the sharecropper house. I realize this may have been the way it was even 50 years ago, but is this truly the way the south should be depicted now? I am reading Sandra Brown's book, Witness, and it is filled with racist creatures who won't invite the town "colored folk" to a wedding, hill jacks who take to vigilante justice when the courts don't suit their liking. This last one is a filled with suspense, and I think there is at least a repudiation of that backward way of living; and the protagonist is a southerner herself. Thus, Brown's book has a redeeming quality.
Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I love the south. My family hails from the south! But for crying out loud! The war is over. The powder is no longer burning! Every state that tried to succeed from the union has had full representation in government since the day Lee signed the surrender at Appomattox! Can't we please move on?
I want to read about the struggles of the southern people, but I don't want to read the stereotypes that for far too long we have allowed to remain part of our daily education. I want to read about the descendant of slaves who became a stalwart of the community. I want to read about the white/black conciliation, and the journey toward understanding. I don't want to read anymore about rum runners who are powerful because folks are still afraid of them! I don't want to read a chapter about how to fry pork chops unless I'm reading a cookbook. I want to read about southerners from an author, an wordsmith, who truly respects the culture, where it has been, where it is now and where it is going.
Thank you ever so much for allowing me to use this forum to vent. I welcome comments and discussion.

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