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Drawing on storytelling traditions as old as southern literature itself, Grit Lit is the first anthology devoted to contemporary writing about the Rough South. From literary legends to emerging voices, the acclaimed writers featured in this collection view their hardscrabble South without romanticism or false nostalgia, not through moonlight and magnolia but moonshine and Marlboros. This is the dirty South as captured by those rooted in its land yet able to share its stories with candor and courage. Grit Lit guides readers through tales both tall and true, intoxicating stories of loss, violence, failure, feuds, family, and--above all--survival against the odds. Raw and raucous, Grit Lit gathers some of the most provocative writing to come out of the South in the last thirty years. With a preface by Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin and Brian Carpenter's introduction to the genre's origins and influences, this bold anthology lays bare the Rough South in all its battered glory and dares readers not to stare in awe.
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"There may be too many good manners and cupcakes, too much prissibility, in what is fashionably called 'Southern Literature.' Here in Grit Lit you'll find some needed and necessary cutting to the bone, some ass kicking, drooling, yelling, and shooting up the house and refrigerator, some use of tools from a toolshed, not a toolbar. Some hurt and love. And some delicate, precision writing by talented women and men writers, including those we've lost too soon: McLaurin, Brown, and now Gay, Hannah, Crews, and Nordan. The whole world needs this book, its daring and direct stare, its treasures."--Clyde Edgerton "Bravo! As an enthusiast of literature of the 'Rough South, ' I am thrilled to see this latest recognition in an extraordinary reader. Tom Franklin's thorough definition of the term grit helps readers like me to accept the term that even Larry Brown found offensive as applied to his work and himself. Brian Carpenter's introduction to the collection is complete--eminently informative and sensitively written. I also applaud the broad range of writers included in the volume. When I teach 'Writers of the Rough South' again, this outstanding reader will be part of the class materials. The general enthusiast of literature of the South, too, will relish its content."--Jean W. Cash, author of Larry Brown: A Writer's Life " the entire atmosphere and storytelling tradition of the "Grit Lit" genre resembles what AMC turned into television over the past five years with the teacher-turned-drug-lord epic, Breaking Bad. If Walter White, the show's protagonist, doesn't fit the description of "a man with little hope of salvation trying to salvage what he can," then no modern character does."-- Craig Manning, Independent Publisher" "While the focus of the collection is on the "rough south," there is a great range and diversity of styles and subject matter in the memoirs and stories. Overall, you get a sense of the richness and diversity of contemporary Southern writing." - Robert Morgan, BookPage "New York Times best-seller Franklin and freelancer Carpenter anthologize here for the first time Grit Lit--bleak, violent, and sometimes blackly funny stories of 'poor southern white' folks--in an attempt to 'refocus the attention back where it belongs--on the writing itself rather than on the alleged exploits of the contributors.' Featured here are Rough South mainstays such as Harry Crews, Dorothy Allison, and Barry Hannah, as well as some lesser-known writers like Anne Pancake and newcomer Alex Taylor. . . . These selections do reveal the genre's breadth, from realism to postmodernism, from Southern gothic to country noir. . . . Students, teachers, and Rough South devotees will also find helpful the critical and recommended reading, viewing, and listening sections hunkered in the back of the book." --Publishers Weekly "Hats off to the editors and publisher who 'birthed' this amazing and needed anthology representing the best of a provocative subsegment of southern American literature. . . . There is lots of beer drinkin', fast drivin', and cussin' going on in these pieces by such rousing bright lights in the southern firmament as Dorothy Allison, Larry Brown, Barry Hannah, and William Gay. The book is inaugurated on the highest plateau with the late Harry Crews' opening segment, 'A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, ' one of the best father remembrances you'll ever read. . . . The lifestyles and lives all of these authors write about may not be sweet, but the ring of quality throughout the book is certainly sweet to the ear." --Booklist (starred review)

Freelance writer Carpenter and novelist Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) share an interest in what they call "the Rough South," where there's no faux nostalgia, flowery language, or elites. Their anthology of fiction and memoir focuses on the violence and hardships that come with poverty, hard use, and neglect-as portrayed by white authors. The editors ignore a significant share of the South's population by including only three women and no blacks, thus imparting a restricted view of the region. The works included-either excerpts from larger works or complete short pieces-come from the last 30 years and include well-known regional writers (e.g., Harry Crews, Barry Hannah), best-selling authors (e.g., Lee Smith, Dorothy Allison, Rick Bragg), and emerging writers (e.g., Alex Taylor, Ann Pancake). Each selection has an introduction written by the editors, and sometimes brief interviews with the author. The pieces by Dorothy Allison and Lewis Nordan (memoir and fiction, respectively) and the short stories by Breece D'J Pancake and Tim Gautreaux are the book's highlights. VERDICT This may appeal to readers who like this subgenre, but it will be of minimal interest beyond that.-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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