Southern Writers

Southern Writers

by William W. Starr
     
 

Through a series of striking photographs Southern Writers affords readers a remarkable opportunity to peer into the personal and professional lives of seventy-two critically and popularly acclaimed writers of the contemporary American South. Working quickly and unobtrusively, David G. Spielman photographed many of the authors in the places where the creative process… See more details below

Overview

Through a series of striking photographs Southern Writers affords readers a remarkable opportunity to peer into the personal and professional lives of seventy-two critically and popularly acclaimed writers of the contemporary American South. Working quickly and unobtrusively, David G. Spielman photographed many of the authors in the places where the creative process occurs - their special writing spaces - whether a "cheap motel room" for Terry Kay, a comfortable, well-furnished den for Anne Rivers Siddons, the Confederate Home in downtown Charleston for Josephine Humphreys, or a cramped office for Clyde Edgerton, where he works with his bare feet propped on a book-strewn, paper-strewn coffee table. Others are pictured in the places where they relax: Lee Smith outdoors at her home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, James Wilcox in a Manhattan park not far from his writing room, and Dori Sanders in the shade of her peach stand. Determined to produce a pictorial as current as it is genuine, Spielman completed all but four of the portraits in just 210 days. Longtime book critic William W. Starr offers biographical sketches to accompany each photograph. In these short essays he describes the process by which each writer writes - not just what but when and where and how, and sometimes even why. He uncovers the agony that often lies behind a seemingly free-flowing narrative and describes the idiosyncratic methods with which the writers approach their solitary art: some working long before sunrise, others never writing before late in the afternoon, more than a handful composing in longhand while others make use of the latest technology. Starr also shares the illuminating and often amusing details of Spielman's photo sessions, discusses the writers' surprising extra-literary careers, and records other revealing facts about the lives and careers of these engaging individuals.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Writing from his experience as a professor of American and English literature at the University of Kentucky, Bryant has compiled here a thorough guidehe calls it a "primer"to the literary output of 20th-century Southerners. From this premise, Bryant is able to include writers like Ralph Ellison, James Agee and William Styron who migrated north but whose works nonetheless both inform and are informed by the regional experience of the South. In more or less chronological order, Bryant leads the reader from the early plantation fiction with its idealized notions of the Old South, through the various movements centered around Vanderbilt Universitythe Fugitives, the Agrarians and the New Criticismall of which contributed greatly to the mid-century "Southern Renaissance," and beyond to a broad discussion of postmodern and contemporary writers. Special attention is given to major writers such as Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Shelby Foote and Robert Penn Warren, whom Bryant designates as "the supreme summary figure of the century," but the book also incorporates and draws connections between lesser-known writers or those whose one-time significance has since faded. Well organized with subchapters devoted to African American writers, women writers, playwrights, poets and critics, the book includes a good deal of background and biographical information. What the book offers in breadth of scope, however, it lacks in details such as quotations from the literature discussed or Bryant's own insights. Nonetheless, for the reader interested in a bird's-eye view of the major figures and trends in Southern literature, this work will be a welcome resource. (Nov.) FYI: Also due in October are Southern Writers with photos by David G. Spielman, text by William W. Starr (Univ. of S. Carolina $24.95 160p ISBN 1-57003-224-6; Oct.) and The Literature of the American South: Vol. II (Norton, $29.95 1060p ISBN 0-393-31671-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781570032240
Publisher:
University of South Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/28/1997
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.70(d)

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