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CLA JOURNAL 121 Published by The University of Southern Mississippi since 1962, The Southern Quarterly: A Journal of Arts & Letters in the South is a scholarly journal devoted to the interdisciplinary study of Southern arts and culture, including literature, history, anthropology, and the traditional arts. TO SUBSCRIBE: Individuals $40/year Institutions $70/year Send article, poem, photo essay, or interview submissions through CONTACT: The Editor, SoQ 118 College Drive #5078 Hattiesburg, MS 39406 AA/EOE/ADAI UC 79011 9.18 The Southern Quarterly Book Reviews Jean W. Cash and Keith Perry, eds. Rough South, Rural South: Region and Class in Recent Southern Literature. Oxford: University Press of Mississippi,2016.264 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4968-0233-0. Hard cover: ($65.00). Jean W. Cash and Keith Perry offer a collection of essays in Rough South, Rural South: Region and Class in Recent Southern Literature (2016) about writers who reveal the lives of southern working class characters in various milieus of the hardscrabble South. Cash and Perry categorize these writers into two distinct groups: those who have actually experienced the life of their characters, and those who transcended their working class environments through education, only to reach back to their personal history and memory that shaped them. Although these writers have unique experiences that formed the contexts of their writing, the essays within the collection attempt to identify a common ground in exploration of the stereotypes often associated with poor white caricatures found in this genre of fiction. The twenty-one essayists in this collection analyze the writers and works of the “hard-core rural South” in an attempt “to reexamine long held stereotypes and beliefs while challenging the literary role traditionally assigned to poor whites” (Bledsoe 68). Class, cultural, and region are important to these writers as revealed in this collection. The collection begins with a short essay by Gary Hawkins, “Rough South: Beginnings,” in which he explains how he discovered various “rough South” writers for a documentary television series he was trying to develop. Hawkins’ discovery and appreciation validate why it is important to understand these often marginalized writers. The next essay written by Erik Bledsoe not only reinforces Hawkins’ commentary but further provides a rationale for the marginalization. Bledsoe’s excerpt from “The Rise of Southern Redneck and White Trash Writers,” notes how stereotypical and pejorative labels of “poor white” characterizations are often perpetuated by contemporary writers (fiction and non-fiction) and often rejected as lesser protagonists due to the greater traditional cultural rejection of “white trash” lifestyles. He traces the lineage of “rednecks” and “white trash” through his examination of Faulkner’s Snopses and discusses how such images have influenced negative views of class consciousness in the southern literary aesthetic. Bledsoe’s summary discussion of Harry Crews, Tim McLaurin, and Larry Brown serves as the introduction to the more comprehensive essays on these writers within the book. Bledsoe concludes that“a new generation of writers is challenging the literary roles traditionally assigned in the stereotypes of poor whites” (9). In his view,“White trash is no longer something to sweep out the back door” (14). Following Bledsoe’s work, the collection’s essays shift focus to specific writers from the two groups and appear to be arranged in somewhat of a chronological order beginning with writers from late twentieth century to more contemporary CLA JOURNAL 123 122 CLA JOURNAL Book Reviews andlesser-knownwriters.EssaysonLarryBrownandWilliamGayillustratethelives of working-class southern writers who did not pursue educational opportunities but instead write about the life they experienced themselves. The remainder of the collection focuses on several other writers such as Dorothy Allison and Tim Gautreaux who sought education as a way to escape their lot in life. Despite the initial rejection of their history and past life, these writers returned home through their fiction, at times, presenting both a sentimental and serious examination of the rural southerners they had known. Many of these writers who wrote about the rough South, a rural South they knew found a catharsis in describing their collective understandings of these communities. Since the editors do not actually outline the differences in the styles of educated versus uneducated southern writers...


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pp. 121-123
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