The South's Mouthpieces
I am thoroughly played by the seasons, and it is spring. I have spring fever of the soul, searching for inspiration, art, grace, and passion. I have found it true that I cannot write unless I am in love, or inspired by beauty. This time of year brings the possibility for all of these things.
I turn back to my old favorites this time of year. I reread "This Side of Paradise" and put myself in the careless and brilliant shoes of Amory Blaine. I pour through my used copy of the complete short stories of Flannery O'Connor. I become at once, a native of the South, an observer of Southern practice, and a wide-eyed novice about the language of human emotion. I fall hard for the strong-willed naivete of Hulga Hopewell. Despite the literary war between Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers, I still fawn over "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". Don't even get me started on "Absalom, Absalom!"
I want to bring y'all a handful of my favorite short stories by Southern writers; from Welty to Faulkner, to Fitzgerald and McCullers, bring a little magic of the classics into your life.
A Visit of Charity, Eudora Welty
A totally biblical, and daringly unsettling short story about a Campfire Girl who set out to earn more points by visiting "old people" at a senior center. The Love Thy Neighbor message is strong and entrancing. Read here.
Bernice Bobs Her Hair, F. Scott Fitzgerald
A super-favorite reflection on the power of conformity, and societal standards. What does our image truly say? Fitzgerald presents an alternative perspective to how we see ourselves and how others see us. Read here.
A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor
O'Connor chose the names of her characters with poignancy. Writing about the Catholic South, she often chose names reflective of the topic. Like in "Good Country People", there is Mrs. Hopewell, and her daughter Joy, who later changes it to Hulga. In "A Good Man is Hard to Find", the proposed bad guy goes by the name The Misfit. O'Connor sends her message further with the names of the people in her stories. Read here.
A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud, Carson McCullers
I get misty-eyed every time I read this one. A Southern writer through and through, McCullers has opted to tackle the great big ideas of Southerners, more than the landscape and what a sense of place can provide the story. Learning to love everything when all love was lost, hardship in communication, and discrepancies, are the tone of McCullers works. Read here.