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Southern Reading Challenge

Southern Reading Challenge

Southern Reading Challenge 2007

The challenge: Read three Southern books. The books must contain a Southern setting by a Southern author. The challenge is hosted by Maggie of Maggie reads. Maggie defined the Southern region with a helpful map (just for me, she told me). Apparently, “south” refers to the south-east (no, not the south) of the U.S. Why Virginia is “South”, and Tenessee even “Deep south”, while southern states like New Mexico and Arizona are not southern at all, will always be beyond me.

The three Southern masterpieces I selected:

  • The adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. The most influential Southern novel, maybe even the most influential American novel, ever. Apparently Hemingway claimed that “all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn”.
  • As I lay dying, by the 1949 Nobel prize winner William Faulkner.
  • To kill a mockingbird, a Southern Gothic bildungsroman novel (according to Wikipedia) by Harper Lee. I don’t know what a “Southern Gothic bildungsroman novel” is, but I guess I’ll find out when I read To kill a mockingbird.

8 Comments

  1. Wonderful pics Henk! I think you are the only participant to actually attempt a Faulkner! 😉

    I look forward to reading your reviews/notes/quotes on these books; plus, attempting to get pictures of some of the interesting things you will be sure to run across.

  2. No, I’m not the only one trying Faulkner. Casa Pearl will also read As I lay dying, and Tiffany Norris will attempt Light in August. I seem to be the only one reading Huckleberry Finn, though.

  3. Oh, now you’re speaking my language. Southern fiction is my favorite of all modern fiction. May I suggest some more contemporary authors? Eudora Welty is a personal favorite, Ellen Gilchrist has some beautiful things to offer, and Flannery O’Connor was not so terribly long ago. And if you stretch your definition of “South” to include Texas, Larry McMurty has a rich, deep catalog of literature that definitely fits the genre.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions, Belinda. I may try some of them later on.

    BTW, Harper Lee (born 1926) is younger than both Flannery O’Connor (1925-1960) and Eudora Welty (1909-2001), so I guess that To kill a mockingbird is also contemporary.

  5. To Kill A Mockingbird is probably my all time favorite book. The movie is excellent as well, which is usually not the case.

  6. Great choices – I agree with Miriam – to kill a mockingbird is my favorite book too – and also my favorite all time movie. Huck Finn is a wonderful book. I liked As I Lay Dying, but I’ve never acquired a real taste for Faulkner.

    McMurtry is one of my favorite authors, and has written some brilliant novels, though he also has a tendency to write silly sequels. My favorite McMurtry books are Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show – I recommend them both.

  7. The reason the South is referred to in this manner, is that when USA had their Civil War it was the Northern states against the Southern states. Check out wikipedia; search: Civil War, USA.
    Most of the Southern states had slaves and when the North defeted the South, the slaves were freed. This is the distinction. Any other territories becoming states afterward, and appearing to be southern, were considered The Heartland, The Plains, The West. Anything west of the Mississippi River, was The West. Hopes this helps.
    The three books you have up for the Southern read are all excellent. To Kill a Mockingbird and the movie were both Classic American story-telling and blockbuster’s both.

  8. Thanks for the explanation. I thought the U.S. Civil War would have something to do with it. I guess I will have to do some background reading as well during the Southern Reading Challenge.

    (So, the Southern States are in the southeast, and The West is in the south. And what do you call the states in the west?)

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