SOUTH’s Foreword by Patti Callahan Henry
If we are made of anything other than cells and bones and blood and stardust, we are made of stories, and these are our stories. In this transforming book, we read about those who grew up in the South, those who can tell us of the accouterments and atmosphere of a southern childhood. There are also the tales of those of us who have been righteously converted. We read of rivers and small towns, of food and family, of loss, segregation and redemption. With every story we read, we become larger of heart and understanding, we merge with the eclectic southern humanity that rushes through our common and uncommon lives.
I didn’t become Southern all at once when, at twelve years old, my parents drove me across the Mason-Dixon Line to move from Philadelphia to Florida. I didn’t turn Southern the minute I stepped onto Auburn University’s campus in Alabama or even when I moved to Atlanta. The metamorphosis could have happened the exact instant I was labeled “a new voice in southern fiction.” But it didn’t. I became Southern the way you grow up or write a book, slowly, day-by-day, word by word, heartbeat by heartbeat. The South’s geography, history, food, culture, music, and mostly the stories, were the ingredients in the making of a southern girl. These tastes of the South replaced the DNA of my childhood, and I am altered completely. No matter how Southern you are or feel, these stories will change you, rearrange your southern heart.