The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists

William Ferris, Author
William Ferris. Univ. of North Carolina, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4696-0754-2
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In this rich collection, developed over 40 years, UNC-Chapel Hill historian Ferris (Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues) sits down with 26 writers, scholars, musicians, painters, and photographers—including Eudora Welty, Alice Walker, Cleanth Brooks, C. Vann Woodward, Pete Seeger, Walker Evans, Rebecca Davenport, William Christenberry, and George Wardlaw—and records their tales and recollections of the power of story in their lives. On the sense of place so important to Southern culture and writing, Welty observes: “It is more of an internal map than a map of a geographical place. It is a map of minds and imagination.” Walker believes, too, that “the region is the heart and the mind, not the section.” Acclaimed historian Woodward reflects on the power of storytelling in the writing of history: “Southern history has to be written with what skill the writer can muster, or it will not be readable.” The great blues musician Bobby Rush suggests that story provides the common ground on which two disparate professions stand: “The bluesman tells a story, and the preacher tells a story… I think the preacher and the bluesman are very, very much hand in hand.” This moving and eloquent book comes with a CD and DVD of Ferris’s interviews with these storytellers, as well as Ferris’s photos of each artist. 46 halftones, CD, DVD. Agent: Emma Patterson, Brandt & Hochman. (Aug.)
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