February 16, 2007
Originally published January 14, 2005
Somebody asked me this question the other day: "What makes a 'Southern" writer?" Okay, here is how I answer:
A Southern writer sets his stories in the South, but the scenery and the geographical location are not all that permeate the tale and give it a distinctly Southern flavor. You experience the sights, sounds, traditions and tastes of the South when you read a good Southern writer. And only a Southerner can pull off that trick, because he's lived it and he knows it. Southern writers put a flavor in their words that no one outside the South can duplicate.
A few examples are Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, James Dickey and Lewis Grizzard.
In MY humble opinion, the best Southern writer alive today is Pat Conroy. I disagree with his politics and I probably would not like him personally, but he's a Southern writer. Just read The Great Santini and savor how he describes the flavor of a raw oyster. You can taste it YOURSELF when you read his words. That's damn good writing.
If you don't know a Southern writer when you read one, you ain't from the South, and you'll NEVER get it.
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