Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Have you read a "Southern novel"?

Well, I am currently in the middle of many books (an unfortunate condition I am trying to get myself out of by finishing my Fitzgerald bio)
but a biggie is I have begun The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.
I am really enjoying it, although I just started it, and think it is very well-written.
As far as I am aware, it is considered a good high school book and is often used to encourage young people to look at the world a little broader. However, I don't see that it is a young adult book, particularly, other than the general ages of the characters and their corresponding topics.

Well, anyway, on the cover The Bean Trees is touted as "a Southern novel taken West." The book definately reads (to me) as a "Southern novel" even though that very idea is hard to quantify. To me, the "voice" of the author is especially important.

So, just what is a "Southern novel"? And have I already read some?
Well, I suppose when To Kill a Mockingbird was shoved down my throat in high school, that counted. Mark Twain surely counts. Hmm, well if I am excluding books written in the western part of the south (east of the Mississippi) then that doesn't leave a lot. I have a nonfiction collection of essays called Fragments and Splinters that I think wonderful things of that was born in rural Virginia on a tenant farm. Haha, and then there's Ender's Game, haha!


  1. I like Kingsolver's earlier work much better than her later books. Have you read anything by Walker Percy, Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty or Flannery O'Connor?

  2. So then is Bean Trees a later work? What's an example of an earlier one?
    None of the authors you mention are especially on my radar, although I've heard of a few of them. What did Faulkner write again?

  3. bean trees is early. i read it with a book club & we all liked it so much we read 2 others by her. i think her later work gets preachy. faulkner is not a favorite of mine, tho that may be sacrilegious for a southerner to say.... he wrote The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Reivers, Intruder in the Dust & others.

  4. I think generally to downplay Faulkner might be "sacriligious" only among a few, and that within the educated minority. It's not quite that education is deprived in the South, but rather that most of the world is packed to the gills with the ignorant. As a Southerner myself, and having lived elsewhere, I get that distinct impression.