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In this marvelous anthology thirty-one of the South's finest writers--from Kaye Gibbons and Reynolds Price, to Eudora Welty and Richard Wright--make their intensely personal contributions to a vibrant collective picture of southern life.
In the hands of these superb artists, the South's rich tradition of storytelling is brilliantly revealed. Whether slave or master, intellectual or "redneck," each voice in this moving and unforgettable collection is proof that southern literature richly deserves its reputation for irreverent humor, exquisite language, a feeling for place, and an undying, often heartbreaking sense of the past.
PRAISE FOR Southern Selves:
"Editor James Watkins orchestrates a series of diverse, first-person cameos that mirror historical periods and varied patterns of Southern life. Watkins...takes a post-modern approach--no chronological thread, rather an arrangement of memoir pieces that convey floating images of the region as a place of mind, moving back and forth in time. This orchestration works well, drawing the reader around human points of a constellation, each with a free-standing quality.... Most of the pieces are linked by concerns of race and class. [But] the most affecting passages of Southern Selves are the words of women bent on creating spaces in a society where even well-born white females were expected to be submissive until the 1970s."
James Agee, from A Death in the Family
Dorothy Allison, from Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature
Maya Angelou, from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Larry Brown, from On Fire
Harry Crews, from A Childhood: The Biography of a Place
Frederick Douglas, from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
Kaye Gibbons, "The First Grade, Jesus, and the Hollyberry Family"
William J. Grayson, from Witness to Sorrow: The Antebellum Autobiography of William J. Grayson
Zora Neale Hurston, from Dust Tracks on the Road
Harriet Jacobs, from Incidents in the Life of a Slave girl
Belle Kearney from A Slaveholder's Daughter
Florence King, from Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady
Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, from The Making of a Southerner
Ralph McGill, from The South and the Southerner
Tim McLaurin, from Keeper of the Moon: A Southern Boyhood
Anne Moody, from Coming of Age in Mississippi
Willie Morris, from North Toward Home
Pauli Murray, from Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family
William Alexander Percy, from Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son
Reynolds Price, from Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides
Evelyn Scott, from Background in Tennessee
Lillian Smith, from Killers of the Dream
Clifton Taulbert, from Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored
Richard Taylor, from Destruction and Reconstruction: Personal Experiences of the Late War
Mark Twain, "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed"
Robert Penn Warren, from Portrait of a Father
Booker T. Washington, from Up from Slavery
Sam R. Watkins, from "Co. Aytch": A Side Show of the Big Show
Eudora Welty, from One Writer's Beginnings
Richard Wright, from Black Boy (American Hunger)