"honest" is the shit.

future was doin some kinda interview/album release thing next to my work tonight and i walked over there with a friend and stood for like 45 minutes listening to the dude talk abt life and music and love and shit and for real that kinda shit makes me proud to be in atlanta.

Almost everybody interested in modern literature in America agrees that there is something distinctive about Southern writing; but nobody has managed to define convincingly the crucial element that unites the various authors generally thought of as Southern while at the same time excluding writers who work in the same literary forms but reflect no special regional spirit or style. What is it that links, say, Erskine Caldwell with Reynolds Price, or Cormac McCarthy with Kaye Gibbons, or even the early Faulkner with the late?

Attempts at answers have included rather literal-minded criteria, such as residence of an author in the South or use of the South as setting; but these usually fail to address fundamental distinctions as to how the South itself is to be defined. Is it a certain number of states or a matter of latitude and longitude, or is it a state of mind and spirit, an outlook or instinctive set of responses that certain writers carry with them wherever they may choose to live and write? Proponents of this latter view, that Southernness is a subjective state, cite a variety of intangible qualities, such as a strong sense of place, a concern with history, an interest in religion, a propensity for “gothic” elements of horror and the grotesque, a strongly biblical narrative tradition, a deep sense of loss and defeat, and so on. But any of these elements can be discerned in the thought and art of writers who are in no other way Southern. So, while such a list may help to define, it fails to delimit, and we are ultimately left with parallels rather than proofs.

My survey of around thirty prominent twentieth-century Southern authors has led me to conclude, without fear of refutation, that there is indeed a single, simple, litmus-like test for the quality of Southernness in literature, one easily formulated into a question to be asked of any literary text and whose answer may be taken as definitive, delimiting, and final.

The test is: Is there a dead mule in it?

- "Equine Gothic: The Dead Mule as Generic Signifier in Southern Literature of the Twentieth Century" by Jerry Leath Mills (via peachtreekeen)


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