We discover our family is connected to this other one, and that friend to another one, until we all learn how we are woven into the great sweep of Southern history.
How do you embody the spirit of the South—or at least the spirit of one Southerner—in words?
You can’t always do it with facts. That’s for sure. Getting inside the heart of a Southern family, for instance, presents many conundrums. Countless Southern families, for instance, live lives you could hardly consider conventional, where paychecks don’t come on the regular. Instead, they pin their hopes on a series of moneymaking dreams and bring their children along for their pie-in-the-sky adventures.
If a journalist reported on such a family, you’d likely read a story that completely overlooks the desires within their hearts. But transpose that story into the realm of fiction, and within it, you can find life lessons, love, and even a smidgen of magic.
That’s what you’ll discover in the short story “Good Money” from Carli Moses, a young Tennessee writer whose voice we’re quite taken with. Not long ago, Carli was an undergrad at a small college in Tennessee. Now, she is in grad school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, studying writing. And her story lovingly captures the dynamics of a distinctly wacky Southern family. We trust you will enjoy “Good Money.”
The French Nobel Prize winning author and philosopher Albert Camus has not a thing to do with the American South, but decades ago, he wrote a universal truth that certainly applies (maybe even especially applies) to the people of our region: “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
We would extend that observation to the work of poets. This week we bring you the work of Tennessee poet Chrissie Anderson Peters, whose work has graced our pages before, and Kentucky’s award-winning David Higdon with his first contribution to Salvation South.
Peters explores the intricacies of a relationship between a mom and child trying to make it on their own—and how young women can find sisterhood with each other even when what ties them together isn’t blood, but the stains that wind up on their hands and faces as they tramp the woods together. And Higdon writes from the woods, too, diving into the magic that happens when a father and his young son explore together.
These simple but profound connections inside Southern families can’t be reported on. They are not the subjects of nonfiction stories. But they can be told—wonderfully and richly—through fiction and poetry. That’s why Salvation South gives a fair share of our space to those art forms.
We hope you enjoy this weekend of reading we’ve given you, and we hope that, so far, your new year is happy.
Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.