Where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog: On Writers and Writing

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Overview

In Where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog, award-winning author Louis D. Rubin, Jr., discusses writing and writers based on his own experience as a writer, editor, teacher, and publisher. Only ten years old when he wrote his first article for publication and eighty-one when he completed the preface to this book, Rubin skillfully incorporates more than seventy years of knowledge and experience into this comprehensive and highly readable work.

The title essay, which involves a railroad crossing in Mississippi, a painting, a novel by Eudora Welty, and a comment on language and image by Walker Percy, is an effort by Rubin to come to grips with a problem that has plagued him for years: what is “Southern” about Southern literature, and how does that Southernness figure in the literary imagination of its practitioners? Most of his essays deal with various problems and possibilities characterizing the American literary scene today: the literary uses of memory, writer’s block, the nature of place in fiction, the teaching of writers and the presence of writers on campuses, the condition of poetry today, sports writing, authorial intent in fiction, how nonfiction bolsters fiction, the parlous state of literary publishing, and other matters of cultural importance.

Among the authors whose works figure in the book are Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Thomas Wolfe, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Flannery O’Connor, Stendhal, Mark Twain, Henry James, A. J. Liebling, Shelby Foote, William Wordsworth, Herman Melville, and Ernest Hemingway. The book concludes with a look at today’s literary situation, a diagnosis of how it got where it is, and some recommendations for rescuing it, inspired in part by the author’s failed attempt to buck the trend by founding Algonquin Books. Scholars and students of American literature, especially Southern literature, are sure to find much of value in these informative and inspirational essays from a dedicated and distinguished student of Southern letters.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this slim yet satisfying volume of essays, Rubin, the founder of Algonquin Books, weighs in with great, sometimes world-weary wisdom on writers, writing and the many ills and exhilarations one experiences while plying the sometimes murky trade of authorship. From the agonies of writer's block-which Rubin memorably describes as something like a moose, "massive, hirsute, inchoate, its imposing antlers spread aloft like a gantry crane"-to the finer points of modern poetry, he probes the creation, craft and consumption of the written word. If a common theme runs through these thoughtful short essays it is Rubin's insistence on and celebration of the representation of the real, the solid, the actual stuff of life. Whether in the terse, almost naked prose of Twain and Hemingway or the florid avalanche of adjectives that flow from the pen of Faulkner, Rubin revels in the details, the microscopic evidence of the writer's eye through which the world passes to be reimagined as great and satisfying literature. Rubin's own prose seethes with an abiding love of and respect for language, its awesome power and for those, lured by its siren song, who struggle every day to master it. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826216083
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Edition description: index
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,054,036
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis D. Rubin, Jr., University Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was the founder and president of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Author or editor of more than fifty books, including My Father’s People: A Family of Southern Jews, Rubin is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Book Critics Circle. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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