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Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena collects a bevy of wise, witty, often hilarious essays by the inimitably charming, staunchly Southern Julia Reed.
In classic Dixie storytelling fashion, Reed wends her way through the South—from politics, religion, and women to weather, pestilence, guns, and what she calls “drinking and other Southern pursuits”—with a rare blend of literary elegance and plainspoken humor.
To hear Reed tell it, the South is another country. She builds an entertaining and persuasive case, using as examples everything from its unfathomable codes of conduct to its disciplined fashion sense. When a bemused Reed once commented on the cross-dressing get-ups of an upstanding community member, her austere grandfather said, “He’s been wearing them lately. Now come on.” A friend of her aunt’s merely said, “I wonder where he gets his shoes. I can’t ever ?nd good-looking shoes in Nashville.”
Southern food, of course, is an entire world apart: gumbo, grits, greens, okra, chess pie, Lady Baltimore cake, and Frito chili pie make memorable appearances in Reed’s stories, which will amuse, delight, and even explain a thing or two to baffed Yankees everywhere.
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“Not since Eudora Welty has anybody captured in such sophisticated, often mordant prose the brave, gracious, perverse, reckless, God-fearing Southern soul like Julia reed. Whether she’s holding forth on fried chicken and catfish, guns, booze, cockfights, pestilence, or Southern womanhood, Reed loads both barrels and never misses the target. As a Carolina Tarheel, I rejoiced, cringed, marveled, and laughed myself sick at Reed’s outrageous tales and savvy insights, and I defy anybody–Southerner and Yankee alike–to come up for are after reading the first chapter.” –James Villas, author of Between Bites and My Mother's Southern Kitchen
"This is a wise and tender book. Julia Reed is a loving defender of the South. Long may she live and write. She understands the deep seriousness that underlies our Scotch-Irish, English, and African roots." -Ellen Gilchrist, author of I, Rhoda Manning, Go Hunting With My Daddy: And Other Stories
JULIA REED grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. She is senior writer at Vogue and a contributing editor at Newsweek. She also writes for The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. Reed divides her time between New Orleans and New York City.
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