Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Another Homerun by a Southern Writer
During the Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers Workshop last June, one of the guest speakers, author Jere Hoar, talking about “The Heart and Soul of the Story,” encouraged us to “try and hit the ball over the fence. You won’t, very often, but you might, sometimes.” Those literary homeruns are what make us love books. I just read another winner by yet another Southern writer, Susan Rebecca White. It’s her debut novel, Bound South.
Susan is from Atlanta, went to Brown, and then got her MFA in creative writing from Hollins University. In the back of the book she says that the two years she spent on the MFA were invaluable, but warns that "the danger with MFA programs, I think, is that you can start writing for your little bitty circle of readers and forget that there is a larger audience out there….” I think she took the best the MFA had to offer and ran with it. Her story is bigger than any writing group’s circle of influence. It has tremendous Southern—if not universal—appeal. And she’s already working on her second novel.
One thing I love about Bound South is the way Susan wrote from first-person point of view for her three main characters, Louise, Caroline and Missy. Louise is the proper Atlanta housewife; Caroline is her rebellious daughter; and Missy is their housekeeper’s daughter. We are thorough enmeshed into each of these women’s heads—very much like another Southern writer, Kathryn Stockett, did with the characters in her novel, The Help—and yet the story flows seamlessly from chapter to chapter.
I also love the way that Susan writes about serious and controversial topics, like suicide, teen pregnancy, and sexual harassment, and yet she weaves the heaviness with lots of humor, the way it often happens in real life.
With blurbs by Lee Smith, Anne Rivers Siddons and Luanne Rice, I knew it would be a good read. And now you’ve got the endorsement of Pen & Palette. With summer coming, it’s a great beach read. I’m almost sorry I read it on the airplane to San Francisco, since it would have been fun to take with me to Seagrove Beach tomorrow. Hmmmmm… now what will I read at the beach?
First I’ll finish up Thin is the New Happy, and then maybe I’ll dive into The Emperor’s Children or One Mississippi. Oh, I just remembered! River Jordan’s new book is just out! I think I’ll run by Burke’s today and pick up a copy. It’s called Saints in Limbo. Watch for a review here in the next couple of weeks. My next blog post will be from Seagrove…. unless I get lazy and don’t check back in until next week. We’ll see. Gotta' run pack for the beach!