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Southern Writers Find Helping Hands

Southern writers often rely on helping hands to guide major characters through troubled waters. Usually, they avoid immediate members of the family as helpers, choosing instead friends, neighbors, professionals, or even strangers. They often build a sharp contrast between the helper and the helpee, heightening either a dramatic or comedic effect.

Clyde Edgerton, drawing on this penchant of Southern writers, pairs an older nurturing woman who likes to cook with a troubled and hungry teenager in several of his stories.

Similarly, in Meet Me on the Paisley Roof, the next door neighbor, Mrs. Sanders, finds sixteen-year-old Trussell asleep in her car. She does not say, "Get the hell out of my car." Instead she says, "Judging by the looks of you, young-un, you could use a little coffee. Come on up to the house." As Southern writers are wont to do, advice to Trussell is served with understanding and food. But what happens when Trussell's pistol-packing stepmother Loretta arrives? It's there in the book!

Yet, Southern writers also rely on helper tough talk to make a point. When Trussell gloats over his success in taking a joy ride in Loretta's car, Melba, an "operator" in Loretta's Parlor of Beauty, puts it to him bluntly: "Trussell, you stole the woman's car. That's what's awful. And, you just sit there being smug about the whole thing. That's awful, too." What does Trussell say to that? It's there!

Southern writers range the gamut of drama and comedy by finding helping hands in strange places. Helping hands are open yet firm. And yes, don't forget the food!

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


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