In these superb essays, most of them first published in The Oxford American, he sorts out a whole warehouse of Southern idiosyncrasy and iconography, including the Southern belle, Faulkner, James Dickey, Stonewall Jackson, Cormac McCarthy, Walker Percy, Erskine Caldwell, guns, dogs, fathers, trees, George Wallace, Elvis, Doc Watson, the decline of poetry, and the return of chain gangs. Unlike Mencken, who was incorrigibly cynical about his subjects, Crowther is capable of affectionate, even sentimental, concessions-even to some of the most dubious players who cross his stage.
These are very personal essays, though they include a wealth of reporting and research. They're conversations with the reader, who is invited to bring his or her experience and prejudice to the topic at hand. There's no quarter given, but no ideological orthodoxies to reassure one faction or alienate another. Crowther is an intellectual free agent. In his essays, the book page and the editorial page find common ground.
Taken as a whole, Hal Crowther's pieces offer a portrait of the modern South with a rich backdrop of its history and its classic literature. More personally, they present a vivid intellectual self-portrait of the man Kirkpatrick Sale has called "the best essayist working in journalism today."
About Hal CrowtherSee more books from this Author
Noted essayist and critic Crowther (Time, Newsweek, etc.), perhaps better known as novelist Lee Smith’s husband, has gathered together over two dozen sparkling essays on all things Southern.| Read Full Review of Cathedrals of Kudzu: A Person...
Even bemoaning our sorry state, Crowther writes with saving wit and flair, deploring ""the Graceland Cult as the state religion of the degenerate `voodoo republic' that is replacing Mr. Jefferson's dignified democracy."" Crowther brings both native insight and objective detachment to his analysis...| Read Full Review of Cathedrals of Kudzu: A Person...
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