The Funniest Southerner?

This week, join our Patti Meredith as she interviews George Singleton, a master of the short story—and of making us laugh at ourselves.

When our contributor Patti Meredith told George Singleton she wanted to interview him for Salvation South, he replied, “I don’t think there’s any salvation on the horizon in the North, South, East, or West. Call me a pessimist, but things appear bleak. That might be a great atmosphere for a writer, though.”

For a writer like Singleton, an undisputed master of the short story and one of the funniest South Carolinians ever to put pen to paper, there is humor, even in the midst of dreary circumstances.

Patti’s interview with George is funny and thoughtful, and if you’re a fan of his writing (and we know many of you are), it will doubtless be a fine way to spend a few minutes of your reading time. If you’re a writer who is a fan of George’s work, you will find some testimonials here from great Southern scribes like Ron Rash, David Joy, and Darnell Arnoult, plus a few writing tips. Our favorite has to do with the difference between “plot” and “a plot,” and the relative time you should spend thinking about each.

On that light note, we also bring you poems about the coming of spring: just days away on the day of this publication. They’re written by Chattanooga’s KB Ballentine, whose words always delight us. This collection of three verses—“From Limb to Blossoming Limb”—is the fourth set of works she has shared with Salvation South readers.

Keep the Kleenex handy when you read “My Mother the Crow” from North Carolina’s Michael Venutolo-Mantovani. Ultimately, every mama leaves. Inevitably, some stick with us.

And this week on the podcast, we're back with another of our monthly Salvation South Deluxe longform audio stories, focused on the new book by University of Virginia historian Grace Elizabeth Hale, In the Pines: A Lynching, A Lie, A Reckoning. Grace grew up believing that her grandfather, while a sheriff in a rural Mississippi county in the 1940s, had stood down a lynch mob—that he was a hero a la Harper Lee's Atticus Finch. Her book, and our conversation with her, looks at how that story eventually fell apart. We also bring in Emory University historian Joseph Crespino, author of Atticus Finch: The Biography, to discuss our persistent hero worship of a fictional character.

This Week-01

—“The End Kisses the Beginning”: the Salvation South interview with writer George Singleton
—“My Mother the Crow”: an elegiac memory from North Carolina’s Michael Venutolo-Mantonvani
—“From Limb to Blossoming Limb”: three poems to greet spring from Tennessee poet KB Ballentine

With the pandemic firmly behind us, Salvation South is back on the event circuit, and we hope you’ll join us for one—or maybe all three—of the events we have planned in April and May.

On Wednesday, April 3, we’ll be at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta to host a screening of Unspoken, filmmaker Stephanie Calabrese’s award-winning documentary feature about the Moore’s Ford Bridge lynchings in 1946 in Bogart, Georgia. The film is an eye-opening look at what Southerners choose to remember about the racial violence in our past—how some of us look away, while others look directly at that history. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the Carter Library’s current historical exhibition, The Negro Motorist Green Book, will be open for viewing, followed by a screening of Unspoken at 6:30. Afterward, I’ll host a conversation with Stephanie about the film, and we’ll take your questions.

For those of you in the Tallahassee area, we will host the Salvation South Stage at the Word of South Festival for the third year running. And what a lineup. Our musical acts include the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Black Opry Revue, Tommy Prine, Abe Partridge, and Jim White, and we’ll be joined on stage by literary friends, including Daniel Wallace, Preston Lauterbach, and Tad Bartlett. Y’all come and visit us on the last weekend of April. The whole shebang kicks off on Friday night, April 26 with Oklahoma’s eternally otherworldly Flaming Lips.

Then, on May 28, we’ll be back with our friends from Atlanta’s A Cappella Books at their “Writers at the Wrecking Bar” series. My old friend Taylor Brown has invited me to be in conversation with him that night about his latest novel, Rednecks, which will have hit your local bookstore just two weeks earlier. Back in 2018, when this novel was in its infancy, I worked with Taylor to edit a story that now, six years later, will be absorbed into this book.

Three pieces of seriously good reading and two dates absolutely worth marking on your calendars. Not bad for a Sunday, right?

Water your seedlings. Spruce up your lawnmowers. Here comes spring.

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Upcoming Salvation South Events


About the author

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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.

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