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Southern Novels and Those Crazy Characters

Southern novels have a reputation for showing unusual, if not crazy or freakish, characters crashing through the pages of the story. They focus on character development, deriving their forward energy from the actions, decisions, and reactions of the characters. These novels highlight characters who are strong individuals and who may indeed be highly eccentric.

Southern novels show a long list of memorable characters. In Dairy Queen Days, a preacher facing a mid-life crisis, stares silently at his Sunday morning congregation, completely at a loss for words. He bids them goodbye, hops on a motorcycle he has just rebuilt, and roars away. Ever hear of a preacher with such timing?

Or, in another example, The Floatplane Notebooks develops a major character Mr. Copeland, Uncle Albert, or Papa, as the viewpoint of the story shifts, who decides to build a floatplane, not a model but a real airplane from a kit. He keeps a notebook carefully recording his trial runs on the lake but avoids any contact with the assembly instructions. Ever hear of such an engineering approach?

In Meet Me on the Paisley Roof this emphasis on character continues. Loretta, stepmother of sixteen-year-old Trussell, struggles to maintain her strict control of him, arms herself with a .38 and asks Madam Celeste to conduct a séance, with Trussell present, to seek advice from Trussell's deceased father. Ever hear of such a parenting strategy?

Southern novels are populated with strong-willed, often eccentric characters. One might say that they get to the heart of the matter. That is, they point ultimately to the human heart, trying to connect with itself or with others, beating away inside the characters.

Looking for good Southern novels? Get your copy of Meet Me on the Paisley Roof today!


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